Kroger workers end 10-day strike

Nearly 8,000 workers at Kroger-owned King Soopers and City Market grocery stores will return to work starting Jan. 21

Kroger workers end 10-day strike

After 10 days on the picket line, nearly 8,000 workers at Kroger-owned King Soopers and City Market grocery stores will return to work in Colorado on Friday.

The strike has ended after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 and store management reached a tentative three-year work agreement, CNN Business reported. Details of the agreement haven’t been released yet.

“After months of negotiations and after our members walked out on strike, we’ve reached a tentative agreement that addresses the company's unfair labor practices and ensures that our members will receive the respect, pay and protection they warrant, Kim Cordova, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 7, said in a statement.

Workers striking against the largest grocery store chain in the state demanded a pay increase, better health benefits and stricter safety measures after working through the COVID-19 pandemic. As negotiations stalled, a court granted King Soopers a temporary restraining order against its striking workers, limiting each picket line to 10 workers per site, NBC News reported. The Kroger-owned stores remained open during the strike, relying on employees from stores outside of the Denver area.

“We’re pleased that this agreement allows us to put more money in our associates' paychecks and secures health care and pension plans,” said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market.

Read more: Dine Brands Global CPO: ‘Difficult decisions have served us well’ during pandemic

Kroger’s final pre-strike offer would have raised starting pay to $16 an hour, the company said. Checkers who are currently paid $19.51 an hour would have gotten raises totaling $3.10 an hour over the three-year contract. Employees with 10 or more years of service were due to get a $4,000 signing bonus, with less senior workers receiving $2,000, according to the company.

In a recent survey of 10,000 Kroger workers across Colorado, Washington and California conducted by the union, 78% of workers say they are "food-insecure," while nearly half live in "inadequate housing." In response, Kroger released its own research highlighting that the company on average pays hourly workers more than its peers, NBC News reported.

Several worker groups across the United States have protested for better conditions during the nationwide staffing shortage fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Amazon employees went against the company on Black Friday to call for a better workplace, among other demands. In another instance around the same time, workers at Wirecutter, the product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company, staged a walkout that resulted in a historic deal with management.

Last month, Kellogg’s workers ended an 11-week strike after their union approved a new five-year contract for the 1,400 affected workers.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that dozens of Activision Blizzard developers are still on strike, even as Microsoft is acquiring the company for $68.7 billion.

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