Denver, CO – On January 3, King Soopers workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Local 7 (UFCW) in Denver and Colorado Springs approved an Unfair Labor Practices strike. Workers across 87 King Soopers locations approved the motion by a 97% margin.
On December 28, the UFCW sued the company in the U.S. District Court of Denver for violating the collective bargaining contract. The union alleges that the recent hiring of temporary, non-union workers is a strategy to hire “gig workers” to avoid providing full benefits. The company also went behind the union’s back during negotiations and released a partial contract proposal to employees that left out concessions that employees would have to make. This was correctly seen by the union as a deliberate attempt by King Soopers to mislead their workers into accepting a subpar agreement.
During this evolving pandemic, Local 7 says they have been ignored and disregarded by King Soopers. Workers received hazard pay for only two months at the beginning of the pandemic. Now, the company is trying to roll even more back, including ending emergency pay and time off for COVID expenses.
These concessionary proposals are even more insulting considering that nearly a thousand employees for King Soopers tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Of those employees infected, five died from the virus. “The workers have been on the front lines, just like health care workers. They’re the critical link to the food supply chain,” UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova said. “Instead of coming in and sharing their profits, the companies have come in asking for outrageous concessions.”
The union membership voted to authorize a strike, but workers won’t walk off the job until UFCW leadership officially calls the strike. If a strike is called, it will be the first time that UFCW Local 7 has struck since 1996. The strike vote will no doubt strengthen the union’s position in any future bargaining.
The strike vote comes during a period of increased labor militancy across the country, with the recent strikes at Nabisco, Kellogg’s and John Deere. A tighter labor market caused by what some call “The Great Resignation” also bolstered the bargaining power of workers. By authorizing a strike, workers at King Soopers took a stand for themselves and the entire working class and they all deserve the fullest support.