As 2022 begins, industry labor issues remain front and center.
The latest case in point is a pending walk-off by workers at Kroger's King Soopers banner. Negotiations between company representatives and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 have stalled and members are prepared to go on strike on Jan. 12 at 5 a.m. MT at union stores in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas.
More than 80 stores and 8,400 workers in Colorado are involved. In a vote last week, almost all workers – 98% of retail associates, 97% of meat employees in Denver and 100% of meat employees in Parker, Boulder and Broomfield – authorized the work stoppage.
On Jan. 10, the union rejected King Soopers’ offer to bring in a federal mediator. “Our plea remains the same: Stop these unfair labor practices, and respect us, protect us and pay us what we deserve. UFCW Local 7 members will remain on strike until the company agrees to cease its unfair labor practices and comes to the negotiating table in good faith,” said Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7 and VP of UFCW International, in a statement.
In turn, King Soopers and City Market filed unfair labor practice charges against the union for refusing to bargain in good faith. On Jan. 11, King Soopers proposed a last, best and final offer to the union, proposing to invest $170 million over the next three years in wage investments and ratification bonuses for all associates. In addition, the retailer brought forth another investment in healthcare benefits. "At King Soopers, we want what is right for our associates, and that is more money in their paychecks while continuing to receive industry-leading healthcare benefits," said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers/City Market.
King Soopers' parent, Cincinnati-based Kroger, is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.