King Soopers Workers End Strike In Colorado

Workers at the Kroger-owned grocery chain King Soopers voted to end their strike in Colorado on Monday night by accepting a new labor contract.

More than 8,000 workers walked off the job on Jan. 12 after Kroger and the workers’ union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, couldn’t agree on terms for a deal. The union asked supporters not to patronize the more than 70 stores involved in the dispute.

But the two sides reached a tentative deal late last week, and the union said Monday night that workers ratified it “overwhelmingly.”

The union did not release details of the contract, but said some workers would receive pay raises of more than $5 per hour.

An earlier proposal from Kroger that the union criticized included pay raises of up to $4.50 for some workers at the bottom end of the income scale, with far more modest increases for workers at the middle and top. That proposal would have boosted the starting pay inside stores to $16 per hour.

The union said the ratified contract includes the biggest pay increase ever included in a grocery contract under the United Food and Commercial Workers, as well as “more stringent safety measures” inside stores.

“Getting here has been arduous,” Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said in a statement. “Full credit goes to the bargaining committee and workers who made their voices heard.”

Union members raise signs outside a King Soopers store during a protest on Jan. 12.
Union members raise signs outside a King Soopers store during a protest on Jan. 12.

Kevin Mohatt via Reuters

Cincinnati-based Kroger, which also owns the Fred Meyer, Dillons and Ralphs chains, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The dispute between Kroger and the union had been heated, with both sides filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing the other of bargaining in bad faith. The company said the union put “politics before people,” while the union said the company turned its back on essential workers who have sacrificed throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve been loyal to you,” one King Soopers worker, Carol McMillian, said ahead of the strike. “It’s time for you to be loyal to us.”

King Soopers had been advertising for replacement workers to cross the picket lines and work for a wage of $18 per hour inside stores. The company later sought and won a temporary restraining order that restricted workers’ ability to picket outside stores during the strike. The union said those legal maneuvers amounted to “bullying tactics.”

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