COLORADO SPRINGS — United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 announced Thursday that they will strike against King Soopers over what they allege are the company's "unfair labor practices." The union confirmed the start of the strike date as January 12 on Friday. The strike will last three weeks.
The decision to strike came after two days of negotiations earlier this week between the union and the company, after union members voted overwhelmingly Sunday and Monday to give the union the authority to call a strike.
The union has filed a lawsuit and several complaints to the National Labor Relations Board accusing King Soopers of labor violations. The charges filed to the NLRB include refusal to bargain, bad faith bargaining, modification of contract, and coercive actions. The lawsuit alleges that the company hired outside workers to perform union work.
In a statement today, Cordova said that the company also "tried to prevent the workers from standing together with each other in the stores, refused to produce information critical to these negotiations, and failed to bargain in good faith with the union."
A representative from the company, Jessica Trowbridge, said in a statement that King Soopers "has followed the law and has not received any notice of wrongdoing from the National Labor Relations Board." The statement also said that King Soopers "remains focused on the bargaining process and is committed to negotiating in good faith."
"At a time when we want to invest more than ever in wage increases and affordable health care, Local 7 has chosen disruption and the unknown for our associates and their families,” said Kelley. “We care deeply about our associates which is why we’ve come to the table with a robust offer that is the best offer in King Soopers/City Market’s history, that puts more money in our associates’ pockets while maintaining our commitment to invest in the whole person with industry-leading healthcare," said Joe Kelley, President of King Soopers.
The most recent contract offered by King Soopers to the union includes $148 million in wage investments and signing bonuses over the next three years, and "an additional investment in health care benefits."
The wage investments offered by the company in the most recent contract include increases of "up to $4.50 per hour in the first year," and a starting rate of pay increase to $16 an hour. The new proposal also includes ratification bonuses of $4,000 for associates with 10+ years of service and $2,000 for associates with less than 10 years of service.
A breakdown of what the new proposal would look like for a checker with five years of experience is as follows, according to King Soopers.
• Current wage $19.51 an hour
• 2022 + $1.00 = $20.51
• 2023 + .80 cents = $21.31
• 2024 + .80 cents = $22.11
This is an increase from the .50 cent raises in the previous proposal.
Cordova said the union "rejected the 50 cent wage increase almost instantaneously," and the the proposal was as "insulting" as it was "inadequate, particularly considering the company's record profits during the pandemic."
Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, authorized a $1 billion stock buyback while the negotiations were ongoing.
Cordova said that a whether a resolution is reached or not "is up to the company," as they "can choose to cease these unfair labor practices at any time." As noted previously, King Soopers denies these allegations of unfair labor practices. An investigation into these allegations by the NLRB is still ongoing.