The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents about 17,000 grocery workers in Colorado and Wyoming, was set to start a three-week strike starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday against King Soopers stores in the Denver area, Boulder and Parker.
Here are some of the details about the strike, issues in the labor dispute and plans by the union and company:
Which stores are affected? The King Soopers stores in the following cities will be involved: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Centennial, Commerce City, Denver, Edgewater, Englewood, Evergreen, Federal Heights, Glendale, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Littleton, Louisville, Parker, Thornton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge. Union members in Colorado Springs also voted to authorize a strike but they won’t participate now because the meat workers’ contracts haven’t expired yet.
How did negotiations go sideways? That depends on whom you ask. The union says King Soopers’ wage proposal is insufficient and the company wants concessions from workers, including a limit on sick leave. It accuses the company of unfair labor practices. Kroger-owned King Soopers said it is offering the largest wage increase in the company’s history and that the union isn’t negotiating in good faith.
Why aren’t all King Soopers/City Market stores striking? The labor dispute affects those stores whose contracts expired Jan. 8. Contracts expire later in January and in February for stores in Pueblo, Grand Junction, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Loveland and the Colorado Springs meat departments.
What are the issues in the dispute? The union’s issues include higher wages; the outsourcing of jobs; eliminating a two-tier pay structure that pays people who started after 2005 less money and less money for workers on the West Slope; safety of workers in the face of rising crime, including robberies in stores; and stronger health protections as the pandemic continues. The union says King Soopers is seeking unacceptable concessions from workers, including capping the amount of sick leave at 48 hours per year.
What is King Soopers’ stance? The company’s latest offer includes $170 million in wage increases and bonuses for all employees for ratification of the contract. Wage increases would be up to $4.50 an hour in the first year, based on job classification and tenure and a boost to $16 an hour to start. Bonuses would be $4,000 for employees with 10 or more years with the company and $2,000 for less than years. The company wants the union to allow members to vote on the offer.
How are the union, King Soopers preparing for the strike? King Soopers has advertised for temporary replacement workers at $18 an hour. The company said hundreds of Kroger employees from across the country are coming to Colorado to help. The UFCW Local 7 said union members from other states are coming to the state to support the striking workers.
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