Union and Kroger Negotiate Today as Midnight Contract Expiration Looms

Jun 09, 2010, 13:46 ET from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 876

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich., June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 876 and the Kroger Company are continuing contract talks today on a new agreement covering approximately 12,000 Michigan members.

"The union's goal has, and continues to be, to negotiate a contract that is fair and protects the best interests of both parties," Roger Robinson, Local 876's president and chief union negotiator, said.

"The union is not looking to strike, or put Kroger out of business. The hard working members of Local 876 simply want a fair contract from a company that is doing very well and making a profit in Michigan."

The union believes it has made realistic contract proposals, while Kroger's latest proposals have been unreasonable. At the conclusion of yesterday's bargaining, the company left a proposal on the table that included the following:

  • No hourly wage increases.
  • Dramatic changes in the way workers earn wage increases and qualify for benefits, delaying for years workers' ability to earn a decent living and receive health and welfare benefits.
  • The elimination of health and welfare benefits for many current and future part time employees.
  • Insufficient funding of the employees' health and welfare plan, which could result in significantly higher employee costs for health care and/or benefit cuts.

The union is committed to bargaining until an agreement is reached, and will continue to prepare for strike and other actions should the midnight deadline pass without a settlement.

"It would be unfortunate, but Kroger may force us to conduct a strike vote," Robinson said.  "Kroger is making money, but you would never know it by their proposals. If Kroger doesn't change its position on several issues, members are going to be faced with a very tough decision in the very near future."

The Local 876 Executive Board and the union's Kroger Advisory Committee have already authorized the union to take any action, up to and including a strike, to secure a fair and just contract. Before a strike could be conducted, the Local 876 Kroger membership and the UFCW International Union would have to authorize the action.

UFCW Local 876 represents over 17,000 workers in eastern and northern Michigan including employees at Kroger, CVS, Rite Aid, and numerous commercial work sites. The UFCW International is among the largest private sector unions in the country with over 1.4 million members.

SOURCE United Food and Commercial Workers Local 876