King Soopers strike: Grocery workers go on strike across Denver area

Thousands of grocery workers started walking the picket lines at King Soopers stores from Boulder to Parker early Wednesday morning, a day after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 rejected the company’s latest contract offer.

The strike is being called on claims of unfair labor practices and is expected to last three weeks. The union Tuesday rejected what King Soopers called its “last, best” offer that included $170 million for wage increases and health care benefits as well as bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $4,000 for ratification of the contract.

“Our original offer on the table was $148 million in wage increases. We raised that to $170 million this morning, which is the largest wage increase in the history of King Soopers and City Market,” Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market, said Tuesday.

Kroger owns King Soopers and City Market in Colorado.

Kelley said union negotiators haven’t been willing to bargain since they rejected an offer last week.

Kim Cordova, UFCW Local 7 president, said the union is willing to resume talks, but King Soopers hasn’t provided information it needs on wages, pensions, health care and other items to evaluate the proposal despite repeated requests for the data.

And King Soopers’ latest offer contained unacceptable provisions, Cordova added, including the addition of gig workers; restrictions on workers’ ability to work overtime; and shortening the time for workers who are on leave of absence or injured.

“Clearly, King Soopers/City Market will not voluntarily meet the needs of our workers, despite our repeated pleas for the Company to listen to the voices of our members,” Cordova said in a statement.

The union filed a federal lawsuit against King Soopers in late December, accusing the company of unfair labor practices. King Soopers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday accusing the union of the same thing.

The strike will affect the King Soopers stores where the union’s contracts expired Jan. 8. The stores are in the following cities: Denver, Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Centennial, Commerce City, Edgewater, Englewood, Evergreen, Federal Heights, Glendale, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Littleton, Louisville, Thornton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge.

The union’s contracts with other King Soopers and City Market stores expire later in January and in February. The union is still negotiating with Albertsons, which owns Albertsons and Safeway stores in the state.

King Soopers has been advertising for temporary replacement workers, and the company announced Wednesday morning that its stores will remain open through the strike.

Cordova said union members from across the country are expected to come to Colorado to support the striking workers.

The last strike by grocery workers in Colorado was in 1996. Union members at King Soopers walked off the job and Safeway and Albertsons eventually locked out union members. The strike lasted 42 days.

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