Setting the Stage for a Grocery Strike

June 11 2009, 10:13 AM
For months, King Soopers workers have been negotiating with their employer for a new contract and are now finally set to vote on one. But that doesn't mean the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local No. 7 is satisfied. Actually, the vote could set the stage for Colorado's first grocery strike in 13 years. As Laura Chapin, a Local 7 spokeswoman, tells the Colorado Springs Gazette, "We are asking members whether to continue negotiations based on the company's latest offer, which includes both wage and pension cuts." Both King Soopers' management and the workers are blaming each other for failing to negotiate as the vote on the new five-year deal approaches, according to the Denver Business Journal. "At this point, the union has not proposed any original changes from their original proposal ... It's a good contract in a normal economy. It's a great contract in this economy," says Diane Mulligan, a spokeswoman for King Soopers. That leaves areas of contention, including disputes over eligibility for health-care benefits, wage increases, and pension benefits. Union workers say they're getting the shaft, noting Kroger, the parent company of King Soopers, posted an 8 percent increase in fourth-quarter profits (compared to a year earlier) and Safeway, which is also negotiating with employees, gained 12 percent in the same period, writes The Denver Post. Meanwhile, in other union news, The Denver Post reports that Senator Michael Bennet's reluctance to make a decision on where he stands regarding the controversial Employee Free Choice Act is hurting him.