King Soopers grocery workers set for strike Wednesday

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King Soopers grocery workers set for strike Wednesday

Jan 10 Reuters -- Negotiations between Kroger's KR.N King Soopers grocery store and the union that represents more than 8,700 workers at the Colorado chain have failed, setting the stage for a three-week strike starting on Wednesday.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 president Kim Cordova said on Monday that King Soopers has not yet provided the information the union needs to evaluate its proposal, according to an update livestreamed on Facebook.

Liz Wesley, a store manager in Colorado Springs who has spent 17 years with the grocery chain, said the only proposal during the three day talks was from the union, which the company representatives asked them to revisit.

Wesley said that the company is not taking seriously our proposals. King Soopers said on Monday that the company has filed unfair practice charges against the union for refusing to bargain in good faith.

King Soopers operates more than 100 stores in Colorado and is the No. 1 grocery chain by market share in the state. The company's sales have gone up during the pandemic, with shares of its parent company, Kroger KR.N, hitting a record high last week.

Over the next four years, King Soopers offered more than $145 million in new wages, bringing the average hourly wage for 75% of associates to more than $18 and over $20 for more than 50% of them.

The union rejected the offer, which led to the company sweetening it to $148 million in wages and signing bonuses over three years.

The union warned on Wednesday that there would be a strike from 5 a.m. 1200 GMT on Wednesday, a day before the contract between the company and the workers in the Denver metropolitan area and the cities of Parker and Broomfield.

King Soopers sought the help of a federal mediator, but Cordova rejected the move, saying that another presence is not going to be productive. The union has recently filed a lawsuit against the grocery chain for violating an agreement by using third-party services to hire workers that paid them wages starting at $16 per hour, more than the wage rate for many King Soopers workers.

The union hasn't given a timeline for when they will return to the negotiation process, according to the company.