Tensions rise as King Soopers employees prepare to strike – CBS Denver

DENVER (CBS4) – Kim Cordova, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, says King Sooper’s stores across the Denver metro area will strike Wednesday morning. Cordova says that the probability that more King Soopers / City Market stores will do the same when the contracts expire is high.

King Soopers sent a letter to the association just before midnight on Friday in which they said that it had made an offer to the association with unique financial benefits and what it believes are otherwise excellent terms of employment.

The letter further states that the company is interested in trying to resolve the parties’ differences and reach a new employment agreement instead of experiencing a labor dispute. King Soopers asked to meet and negotiate immediately.

(Credit: CBS)

The union did not return to the negotiating table on Saturday, but said it was willing to do so at an appropriate time. The union says they will extend the deadline for a contract until Wednesday morning at 04.59

Cordova, in its response on behalf of the union, says that the latest proposal from the company, although not sufficient to meet the needs of workers, represented movement on several points.

Cordova told CBS4 on Tuesday that the increase offered by Kroger, the parent company, was 13 cents above the minimum wage, and the overall package did nothing to address the dangers of the pandemic and general security issues.

“Working conditions in our stores are very dangerous and safety is a high priority, and the company has certainly come to the table and not addressed any of these issues. At the same time, they do not negotiate in good faith and break the law, so it is unfair work practice and because of that. “Because of their actions, we will strike on Wednesday,” Cordova said.

Kroger said earlier this week that they were offering salary increases of up to $ 4.50 in the first year of employment and signing bonuses over the next three years. It also says that it does not estimate increased health services through 2025.

After 17 hours of negotiations, the union and Kroger, the parent company of the grocery stores, failed to reach an agreement.

On Friday, King Soopers’ president called the union’s decision to strike “ruthless” and “disruptive”. Kroger’s senior director of working conditions issued a new statement on Saturday morning and begged the union to find time to meet to reach an agreement.

UCFW Local 7 tells CBS4 that they will not return to negotiations on Saturday.

“The public opinion court, for its part, is as it usually is, and I think in a way they are not afraid to take things further,” said Dan Duber-Smith, senior lecturer at Metropolitan State University, in the union.

Duber-Smith says that even if the union has the opportunity to put some pressure on the grocery giant, it may be time for the union to find some common ground.

“I think it is very challenging at a time when there is a shortage of labor and inflation. We have the worst inflation we have had since I went to secondary school, which causes dealers to raise their prices, says Duber-Smith. “Does the audience appreciate the timing of this? Does the public see this as a kind of way for a group of people, the union, to in a way bully the organization to get what they want in a time where the pandemic has made things challenging for everyone? “

Cordova said people can expect to see strike lines in stores across the Denver metro area from 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Customers have already noticed that certain products are sold out due to what King Soopers calls a change in buying habits. Hiring temps is part of a contingency plan to avoid disruption due to the strike, but with so many other grocery options on top of labor shortages, Duber-Smith believes it will be difficult.

“I think King Soopers is going to be hard pressed to find the temps themselves at $ 18 an hour to fill the vacancies, which means certain things are going to suffer, and I think customer service is one of the first things to go. “

The strike will involve around 8,400 workers at 74 stores. While not everyone will see strike lines, those with contracts expiring Saturday include Denver, Boulder, Broomfield, Parker and Colorado Springs. Picket lines can occur in stores between these locations.

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