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King Soopers grocery store workers in Denver area vote to authorize strike

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Posted at 10:50 AM, Jan 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 12:58:08-05

DENVER — King Soopers union workers have voted to strike in the Denver and Boulder areas over what they're calling unfair labor practices.

According to the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, which represents approximately 17,000 grocery workers from King Soopers and their parent company, Kroger, the employees voted to strike because the company is trying to "prevent workers from securing a new contract advancing wages, health and retirement benefits."

In total, 98% of Denver retail workers, 97% of Denver meat workers, 100% of Boulder meat workers, 100% of Broomfield meat and retail workers and 100% of Parker meat workers voted to strike.

"King Soopers and City Market have missed a golden opportunity to show workers and customers that, as the industry leader, they want to make their stores the best places to work in Colorado," said Kim Cordova, the vice president of UFCW International and the president of UFCW Local 7. "Local 7 will not rest until we secure a contract that respects, protects and pays these essential grocery workers."

Cordova said a vote to strike is also occurring in Colorado Springs Monday evening, and Local 7 expects similar results.

The vote to strike comes after the union filed a lawsuit against King Soopers last week, claiming a breach of contract over hiring vendors in the stores to perform work done by Local 7 members, with vendor employees being paid more than many King Soopers employees.

King Soopers employees will remain at work at least through the end of their current agreement, which expires at 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 8.

Jessica Trowbridge, a spokesperson for King Soopers, provided a statement saying the company is focused on negotiating the contract "in good faith," which includes $145 million in new wage investment. She says Local 7 has not provided a counteroffer.

"We take our obligation to provide our communities with access to fresh food and other essentials very seriously. At a time when Coloradans are coming together to support our communities, the UFCW LOCAL 7 is threatening disruption?" the statement read. "Let's be clear, Local 7 issued a strike authorization vote related to alleged unfair labor practices. These allegations are just that, allegations, as King Soopers/City Market has followed the law and has NOT received any notice of wrongdoing from the National Labor Relations Board." The company is 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."

King Soopers stores are owned by Kroger, one of the largest grocers in the U.S.

This story was originally published by Blayke Roznowski on Scripps station KMGH in Denver.