King Soopers employees to vote on strike

DENVER — Unable to reach a new employment agreement with King Soopers management, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the union that represents 12,000 of the grocery chain’s workers in Colorado, are voting today and Friday whether to strike.

Contract negotiations, which had been underway since late last year, broke down earlier this month. Union representatives accused King Soopers management of walking away from the bargaining table. The grocery store disputed that characterization.

The two sides were unable to strike a deal on issues such as overtime, leave, sick time and scheduling.

“The hard-working men and women who handle your produce, slice your meat and prepare your food at King Soopers and City Market deserve access to quality health care and paid, first-day sick leave when they aren’t feeling well,” UFCW Local 7 president Kim Cordova said in a prepared statement. “The latest proposal from King Soopers and City Market is not good for workers, and it is not good for customers and their families.”

In a series of six meetings over the next two days, union members will vote whether to strike or to accept a proposal from the company that does not include immediate access to paid sick leave for new employees. The union says that a vote to authorize a strike does not mean employees will walk off the job immediately.

“Authorizing a strike is difficult for any worker, but we are committed to making King Soopers and City Market a better place to both work and shop,” Cordova said. “We remain hopeful that the company will come to the table with an offer that provides … workers with the benefits they have earned and deserve.”

According to King Soopers, the company’s most recent contract offer includes incremental wage increases, fixed health care costs and investments in employee pensions. Some employees, however, are not eligible for full benefits until they’ve worked for the company for three years.

In anticipation of a possible strike, King Soopers has been hiring temporary workers. “Once negotiations stopped we made preparations to ensure our stores can continue to serve our communities,” according to a company statement.

“Despite the transformation occurring in the grocery industry, we continue to make significant investments in our associates,” King Soopers president Dennis Gibson said in a prepared statement. “We have come to this offer with each of our associates in mind. I am confident when our associates read through the details of this offer they will see we are making significant investments in them.”

DENVER — Unable to reach a new employment agreement with King Soopers management, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, the union that represents 12,000 of the grocery chain’s workers in Colorado, are voting today and Friday whether to strike.

Contract negotiations, which had been underway since late last year, broke down earlier this month. Union representatives accused King Soopers management of walking away from the bargaining table. The grocery store disputed that characterization.

The two sides were unable to strike a deal on issues such as overtime, leave, sick time and scheduling.

“The hard-working men and women who handle your produce, slice your meat and prepare your food at King Soopers and City Market deserve access to quality health care and paid, first-day sick leave when they aren’t feeling well,” UFCW Local 7 president Kim Cordova said in a prepared statement. “The latest proposal from King Soopers and City Market is not good for workers, and it is not good for customers and their families.”

In a series of six meetings over the next two days, union members will vote whether to strike or to accept a proposal from the company that does not include immediate access to paid sick leave for new employees. The union says that a vote to authorize a strike does not mean employees will walk off the job immediately.

“Authorizing a strike is difficult for any worker, but we are committed to making King Soopers and City Market a better place to…