After five months of negotiations, during which some King supers union members voted to authorize a strike, a new contract was voted on and approved by representatives of 20,000 members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 union.
Members voted to approve contracts with the state’s larges grocery companies, King Soopers, City Market, Safeway and Albertsons, the union said in a statement.
Union members voted in 85 different Colorado locations in a voting period between April 4 and Thursday. The final vote took place in Montrose, with all units ratifying their new three-year contracts, a statement from UFCW Local 7 said.
Union members had voted to authorize a strike in March, but it never came to fruition, after talks repeatedly broke down between King Soopers parent company Kroger and union negotiators.
“These hardworking women and men stood together for better lives and a better place to work. Together, our new contracts will provide pay raises for every worker, good health care and retirement benefits, and a safer workplace,” said UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova in a statement. “Making each store a better place to work also makes it a better place to shop. Strong customer service is what made these companies successful and we are pleased this contract invests in the workers who proudly serve our communities every day.”
Sick-leave benefits and raises that were fairly offered across-the-board were some of the sticking points that caused friction between union members and the national grocery giant.
According to a union press release, the new contract included the following:
- “Better wages, including pay raises retroactive to the end of the previous contract
- Good healthcare, including better dental benefits
- Secure retirements for 12,000 retirees and those still working
- Credit for military service as work experience
- More time off to ensure the safety of victims of domestic abuse or stalking
- Easier access to first-day sick leave, so food workers can stay healthy on the job.”
The union’s previous contract, covering employees in Colorado and Wyoming, had expired in January. During hostile negotiations, signs popped up at Colorado King Soopers stores advertising for temporary workers, paid $15 an hour, with no benefits. The starting salary offered to union members by the company was around $14.41, according to the union’s website.
“King Soopers/City Market and UFCW Local 7 have reached an agreement which has been ratified by the members. This is good news for our associates, customers and communities,” said King Soopers corporate spokesman Adam Williamson in a statement.
The company runs about 159 grocery stores in Colorado. The last King Soopers strike was in 1996.