Front-line associates at Food 4 Less/FoodsCo supermarkets who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) in Southern and Central California have overwhelmingly voted ratified a new contract. A worker-led bargaining committee from UFCW local unions across California hammered out the agreement after six months of negotiations with The Kroger Co., Food 4 Less/FoodsCo’s parent company.
The contract includes wage increases of up to $1.65 over three years, as well as an agreement to match any larger increases won by workers at sister banner Ralphs in their upcoming contract renewal. It also provides bonuses of $150-$500 for most workers, more guaranteed hours for part-timer workers, additional vacation time for senior employees, and access to a scholarship fund that Ralphs workers already have, and sets up a health and safety committee at every Food 4 Less/FoodsCo store.
“This contract fight has been historic and it is a workers’ victory,” said UFCW 770 Secretary Treasurer Kathy Finn. “Food 4 Less members were actively engaged in the bargaining process. Despite all the challenges faced throughout the pandemic, UFCW 770 members were able to speak up about the changes that they needed to make. This contract is an important step towards our goal of reaching the kind of member participation and worker power necessary to achieve truly transformative contracts.”
The bargaining unit covers about 7,000 employees working at 98 stores in nine California counties. The workers are represented by UFCW Locals 135, 324, 770, 1167,1428,1442 and 8-GS. UFCW 770 represents about 2,500 Food 4 Less/FoodsCo associates at 37 stores in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties.
The contract expired in June 2020 but because of the pandemic, it was extended until March 2021. Negotiations started on Jan. 6, and the contract expires on June 8, 2024.
Los Angeles-based UFCW Local 770 represents more than 20,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. In total, the union represents about 31,000 members in the retail food, retail pharmacy, meatpacking and food processing, laboratory and cannabis industries.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 11 million-plus customers daily through a digital shopping experience and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, including Compton, Calif.-based Food 4 Less/FoodsCo. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.