Kroger and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400 announced Friday night the two had reached agreement on a tentative contract, averting a possible strike by more than 4,200 Kroger workers in the Mountain State.

A tweet from the union said, “We did it! Kroger backed down and we saved our health care!”

The UFCW Local 400 bargaining advisory committee is recommending the rank-and-file approve the new proposal. It recommended rejection in a vote on a separate proposal last week and it was voted down by 90% of those voting. The members also authorized a strike by an overwhelming margin but one was never scheduled as negotiations resumed.

Paula Ginnett, president of Kroger Mid-Atlantic, issued the following statement Friday night:

“Kroger Mid-Atlantic and UFCW Local 400 have reached a fully recommended tentative agreement for associates in our West Virginia stores. Given the unique circumstances everyone is experiencing in today’s world, the Kroger Mid-Atlantic and UFCW Local 400 bargaining committees worked virtually and diligently to create an agreement that provides our associates with a solid compensation package of wages and benefits. Focusing on solutions – together – was the key in reaching this agreement.”

The union listed some highlights of the proposed contract on its website:

-Health care funding that experts say will fully fund our health care for the life of the contract

-Real raises for EVERYONE

-Premiums for ALL department heads

-No increase to prescription drug costs maximums + a new diabetes program to reduce drug costs

-New hours eligibility measurement period doesn’t start until after ratification

-All raises retroactive to November 1, 2020

Union leaders were praising the solidarity of the workers at 40 stores from Wheeling to Bluefield on the union website Friday night. UFCW Local 400 members have rallied in Morgantown and other cities. Photo/UFCW

“This would not have happened without the unity, solidarity and strength of our members. When Kroger threatened to put our health care at risk, we stood strong and proved we were willing to fight for what we deserve. While no contract is perfect, our credible strike threat got us a fair agreement and we are ready to recommend it for ratification,” the union said.

The proposed contract rejected last week included what Ginnett called “modest annual increases” in employee health care costs beginning in January 2022.

“Up to $36 a month for individual coverage and $96 a month for family coverage,” Ginnett said. “That’s significantly below the national average for a PPO.”

Kroger associates haven’t seen an increase in health care costs since 2014.

Union members will find out the specifics of the new proposal in a tele-town hall meeting next week. The union says voting will also take place next week in designated stores. More information is expected to be released Saturday.

Source: WV Metro News