Kroger employees in West Virginia are in line to see an increase in wages and benefits.
Kroger Mid-Atlantic, which operates 100 stores in West Virginia and other neighboring states, announced that they would be proposing a contract offer to UFCW 400 to invest over $20 million in wage increases and other health benefits. This offer has come from weeks of negotiations between the two parties in which Kroger representatives feel is a fair offer.
“So this really is a great comprehensive offer with the best interest of our associates in mind,” said Kroger Mid-Atlantic Corporate Affairs Manager Allison McGee.
The $20 million offer made to UFCW 400, which represents thousands of workers across West Virginia, including in Mon County, expands on several health benefits that were made by requests during the negotiation periods. This included increases in company contributions in medical and dental benefits, along with vision benefits which allow for employees to benefit in the short term. The short term benefits, include the prevention of employees having to have any increased contributions for the next fiscal year.
“It provides additional compensation for all West Virginia associates,” explained McGee. “It increases company contributions to healthcare benefits, it keeps associate contributions for healthcare the same through 2021, with only modest increases after that,” she said.
Other parts of the offer go beyond basic increases in health benefits and pay wages. According to McGee the new agreement would support employees looking to contribute more by offering promotional opportunities that have proven to be more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. These opportunities, are intended to keep younger employees in good position in the company as older employees plan retirements.
“That supports upward mobility for all associates, providing them with opportunities for job promotions and career growth,” she said.
With the offer now on the table, UFCW 400 will now take time to deliberate amongst themselves and decide if the offer from Kroger Mid-Atlantic is appropriate for their needs. As of late October, the negotiations between UFCW 400 and Kroger Mid-Atlantic have been ongoing for several weeks and have been slightly hampered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability to have face to face communications. For now, with Thanksgiving coming closer, the ball is now in UFCW 400’s court.
“We’ve heard that the union will vote next week on the comprehensive best offer, and from there we’ll be able to determine the next steps in the process,” she said.