COLORADO SPRINGS — King Soopers union workers across the Denver area are on strike this morning for what they are calling “unfair labor practices.”
King Soopers workers in Colorado Springs and Pueblo will not be on strike today. However, after speaking with members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, this could change down the road, and the union workers are prepared to strike if an agreement isn’t reached.
This all stems back to a lawsuit the union filed against King Soopers to the National Labor Relations Board. The union argues that King Scoopers hired outside workers to do their labor work. I spoke with a King Soopers employee who has been with the company for 17 years. She says 12 years ago, the company treated its employees much better, and she was able to purchase a home and support her two kids with her salary. She went on to say that with the rising cost of living, that’s just not the case today.
“These are the promises that we want to throw our employees while we get our multi-billion-dollar stock buybacks and bonuses, and this is what’s left for the employees. And the employees have had enough. They’ve worked through this pandemic,” said Liz Wesley, a King Soopers Union Worker.
“They have been out there getting covid, putting their lives on the line and serving the community in which they live. And now, they cannot even afford to live in the communities that they serve.”
King Soopers responded back saying they are in the process of filing unfair labor practice charges against the union president and Local 7 for its bad faith bargaining and tactics as well as pursuing other legal action for unlawful conduct.
I spoke with a representative from King Soopers who says the grocery chain is trying its best to reach a deal with the union workers.
“We, from the beginning have tried to get our offers in front of the union so that we can get this settled and get more money in our associates' pockets. Unfortunately, Local 7 has refused to come to the bargaining table and has refused to meet with us to negotiate a deal,” said Jessica Trowbridge, a King Soopers Corporate Affairs representative.
So, that’s how we found ourselves where we are here today, sending out this best and final offer via email this morning. And, I would like to call out the Union, has still not responded nor confirmed receipt of this offer to our associates, their members.”
The most recent and final offer from King Soopers brings starting pay to 16 dollars an hour and allows a full-time checker, to make over $47,000 annually, in addition to their “industry-leading healthcare and pension benefits.”
I spoke with King Soopers about how they are ready to hire temporary employees at 18 dollars an hour in the case of a strike. They said it’s their job to make sure these jobs are filled during this challenging time. They didn’t want it to come to this, but they must be prepared for the worst.
“Local 7 is putting politics before people and preventing us from putting more money in our associates’ pockets,” said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers/City Market. “It’s time for Kim Cordova to put our associates, her members, first instead of denying them the opportunity to vote on this unprecedented investment. Creating more disruption for our associates, their families, and Coloradans rather than negotiating for a peaceful resolution is irresponsible and undemocratic.”
According to the Denver Post, "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."
The stores that are on strike in the Denver area remain open today.