Uncertainty Among Colo. Grocery Workers as Union Deadline Looms

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Uncertainty Among Colo. Grocery Workers as Union Deadline Looms

Safeway workers in Colorado have agreed to extend their current contract with management until June 15, but Kroger’s King Soopers and its workers weren’t able to develop an extension acceptable to all in time for Saturday’s contract termination date.

According to published reports, this has caused uncertainty among United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local No. 7. King Soopers workers have not requested a vote on whether to authorize a strike.

Approximately 17,000 unionized workers of Denver grocers Albertsons, Safeway, and Kroger’s King Soopers began negotiations on a new five-year contract on April 9 and have extended the current contract until May 30.

Safeway workers agreed last week to extend their deal for another half a month after making a counteroffer to the chain’s latest contract proposal. King Soopers workers, however, rejected a similar extension because the chain wouldn’t remove a clause that would allow the company to lock out workers after giving them 24-hour notice. They then rejected the union’s proposal for a 10-week contract extension.

Despite the extension of the Safeway contract, the chain could still lock workers out with one day’s notice if King Soopers employees go on strike, according to an agreement signed between the two grocers in April. Albertsons workers have been working without a contract since May 9.

The issues involved are pay levels, health care, and pension benefits. King Soopers and Safeway have offered salary freezes for most workers and cuts in pension benefits while tentatively agreeing to a preventive health care package.