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King Soopers strike set for Jan. 12 in Denver area, Boulder, Parker, Colorado Springs

Union members plan to go on strike against King Soopers grocery stores in metro Denver, Boulder, Parker and Colorado Springs starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday after rejecting what the supermarket chain said was its best contract offer.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 announced Friday morning that the strike on what it says are unfair labor practices will last three weeks and involve approximately 8,400 workers at 78 stores.

Kim Cordova, the union president, said after negotiating for 17 hours Wednesday, the union rejected an offer she described as full of concessions the company is seeking from workers.

The proposals that UFCW Local 7 opposes include caps on the amount of sick leave employees can take per year, changes in overtime, outsourcing of jobs,  wages it says are not competitive and health and safety concerns.

Last week, the union filed a lawsuit in federal court that alleged King Soopers is using third-party staffing services to fill union-covered work.

“King Soopers is enjoying record profits while leaving its workers to struggle with low wages. Grocery workers ensure that our communities have access to food, but they cannot even afford to feed their own families,” Cordova said in a statement.

The metro-area stores affected by the strike are in the following cities: Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Centennial, Commerce City, Denver, Edgewater, Englewood, Evergreen, Federal Heights, Glendale, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Lakewood, Littleton, Louisville, Thornton, Westminster and Wheat Ridge. Stores in Parker and Colorado Springs also will be impacted.

Kroger-owned King Soopers, the largest grocery chain in Colorado, has denied engaging in unfair labor practices. It said its offer includes $148 million for wage increases of up to $4.50 an hour in the first year and signing bonuses over the next three years.

The company, which also owns City Market stores in the state, added that it proposed additional money for health care benefits. King Soopers has been advertising for temporary replacement workers at $18 an hour in case of a strike.

In a statement Thursday, Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers/City Market, accused the union of “threatening disruption instead of focusing on what is best for our associates, their members.”

Cordova said the pay King Soopers is offering to replacements is higher than what many of its employees make. The company’s contract offer proposed increasing the starting pay to $16 an hour.

The union is negotiating new contracts for its members across Colorado. The contracts for the stores in the Denver area, Boulder, Parker and Colorado Springs expire Saturday. Union members at the stores voted overwhelmingly Sunday and Monday to authorize a strike.

Contracts at other King Soopers and City Market stores expire later in January and February.

The union and Albertsons agreed Thursday to extend their contracts and continue negotiating. That company owns Safeway and Albertsons stores in Colorado.

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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