King Soopers and Workers Reach Tentative Deal To Avoid Strike

<p>CPR News</p>
<p>The King Soopers at Krameria and 14th in Denver.</p>
Photo: King Soopers BuildingDenver HV
The King Soopers at Krameria and 14th in Denver.

King Soopers and City Market workers have reached a tentative deal with their employers this weekend after 37 hours of negotiation.

“We have offered a contract that respects our associates by significantly investing in their total compensation and seeks zero concessions,” said Dennis Gibson, president of King Soopers and City Market, in a statement. “This would include more than $117.5 million investment in pay raises, health care coverage and a stable retirement — which many of our competitors do not offer.”

Union members still have to vote on whether to take the company’s offer.

More than 92 percent of UFCW Local 7 members who work at King Soopers and City Market — there are more than 12,000 of them — authorized a strike March 15 after attempts at restarting negotiations stalled.

King Soopers and City Market have conceded to some of the union’s demands including an increase in investment in health care coverage and wage increases for all workers.

But the union didn’t get one of their main asks: first-day sick leave for all workers. This latest offer provides for guaranteed paid leave after an employee has 192 hours in their sick bank. Early offers from King Soopers did not include guarantees that any sick workers would get paid for the first day they are ill.

The union’s concern is that this policy encourages workers, who often handle food, to come in sick, something not healthy for employees or customers.

Company negotiators walked out of previous negotiations, union officials said. Employees’ current contract expired on January 12, 2019. The two sides have been discussing new worker contracts since late 2018.

"For more than four months, Local 7 members worked incredibly hard to get the best possible contract for more than 12,000 Colorado families," said union president Kim Cordova. "The fact that this offer is significantly better than where we started in December is a tribute to the hard work of every member."

The company operates about 150 stores in Colorado. Last year, Kroger, which owns King Soopers and City Market, was ranked 17th on the Forbes 500 list, and had more than $122 billion in revenue.

“This is good news for our associates, customers and communities,” said corporate representative Adam Williamson.

UFCW Local 7 also represents Safeway and Albertsons employees. Contract negotiations with corporate representatives for the company that owns both chains will likely begin the week of March 31.