Workers at a Hannaford distribution center in South Portland have voted overwhelmingly to accept a new contract that gives them an hourly wage increase and maintains their health coverage while reducing the hourly wage paid to new hires.

The workers voted 150-38 to accept the three-year contract, said Jeff Bollen, president of United Food and Commercial Workers 1445 in Dedham, Masschusetts. The union represents 246 employees at the distribution center operated by Delhaize America Distribution, a subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch parent company of Scarborough-based Hannaford Supermarkets.

The vote Wednesday came three weeks after union members went on a one-day strike.

“United Food and Commercial Workers 1445 has accepted Delhaize America Distribution LLC’s original offer, which was a fair and competitive agreement,” Christy Phillips-Brown, a spokeswoman for Delhaize America Distribution, said in a statement Monday. “Delhaize America Distribution LLC is pleased the situation is now resolved and looks forward to continuing to serve its customers.”

Phillips-Brown did not respond to a request for details of the contract.

The distribution center supplies 103 Hannaford supermarkets in New England, including 63 stores in Maine.

The new contract provides all distribution center workers with an hourly pay raise of 50 cents for each of the next three years, which means that by the time the contract expires in February 2020 employees will be receiving $1.50 more an hour than they currently earn, Bollen said.

“I would like to have seen more, but that is what we settled for,” he said in a telephone interview. “Everyone wanted to get back to work.”

Health care coverage will remain the same for the duration of the contract, which is retroactive to Feb. 17.

Terms of the new contract stipulate that new employees will be paid $16 an hour instead of the current rate of $20 an hour, Bollen said.

He said the workers he has spoken with do not like the new hire wage provision. Warehouse jobs in South Portland require a dedicated workforce, he said, something that has turned the local plant into one of Delhaize’s highest producing facilities.

“The workers say the company will only hurt themselves by paying such a low hourly rate,” Bollen said. “They think it’s a mistake.”

Bollen said he is proud of the union workers in Maine, who overwhelmingly voted to authorize a 24-hour strike on Feb. 21.

“The union workers in Maine showed a force of solidarity unlike they have ever done before in the history of this company,” Bollen said.

Workers rejected the company’s contract offer on Feb. 17 and authorized a strike. The next week, workers walked off the job in a 24-hour strike before negotiations.

Striking workers chanted, marched and temporarily blocked delivery traffic during the strike in a show of strength aimed at bringing management back to the negotiating table.

Union members wanted the company to address high health insurance costs and pull back the proposed pay cut for new workers.

“We didn’t give anything back except the rate for new hires,” Bollen said.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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