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Kroger Shop Steward Wins Back Pay for Local 400 Members

Nicole Boyd had had enough.

A shop steward and florist at Kroger #326 in Lynchburg, Virginia, she was tired of seeing managers doing work that was supposed to be assigned to her coworkers, while Local 400 members working part-time weren’t getting the hours they wanted and needed.

“The managers are constantly stocking shelves,” Nicole said. “On any day, you can walk in and find a manager stocking. Sometimes there’s three or four. Some days, they even bring in co-managers in from other stores, rather than giving part-timers the hours they want.”

So Nicole decided to do something about it. She took photos every time she saw a manager stocking shelves. She did the legwork to identify the name of each manager who came in from another store. And then she sent the photos to her Local 400 representative, Phil Frisina.

“Some managers told me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of them,” she said. “But they have no expectation of privacy because they’re on video the whole time they’re in the store. So I just kept snapping away.”

At the same time, Nicole talked with part-timers who wanted more hours and weren’t getting them. She persuaded many of them to sign forms testifying to this.

Thanks to her tenacity in documenting these repeated violations of her union contract, combined with follow-up work by Local 400 staff, the company was forced to pay the wages of part-timers who should have been doing the stocking that was being performed by managers. Everyone who signed the forms and was denied hours they should have had was paid for those hours.

Despite this great victory, Nicole said, “They haven’t stopped. This week, there were three managers on duty who were stocking. They don’t care. Meanwhile, Kroger keeps cutting hours. So I’m going to keep taking pictures and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”

Nicole brings an unusual background to her activism as a shop steward. She started working at Kroger in 2012, but didn’t join Local 400 until last year’s contract fight, even though her husband, Kroger #408 head meat cutter Kenneth Boyd, was a member and was urging her to do the same.

“When we voted to authorize a strike, I decided I’m not crossing a picket line and I want a say in our contract and the protections we receive on the job,” Nicole said. “And shortly after I joined, I was asked to be a shop steward and I proudly agreed to do so.”

One of her top priorities ever since has been to sign up new members—and her journey to becoming a Local 400 member, shop steward and activist has been a powerful tool in doing so. “I tell them my story,” Nicole said. “I say, ‘I was anti-union and didn’t see why I needed to be a member. I know exactly what you’re thinking; I’ve been in your shoes. But the way Kroger is being run, and the way management tries to make us do more with fewer resources and not enough pay and hours, all of us really need our union now.’ I tell them the way it is. And they usually sign up.

“Just in the last year, there’s a lot more pressure on workers to stock more stock,” she explained. “They want us to work faster and faster, and it’s gotten to the point that some people work right through their breaks and lunches to do all that’s demanded of them because they’re afraid of being fired. Of course, at the same time, management is also insisting that we greet every customer and walk with them when they need to find things. This can’t continue or else turnover – which is already way too high – will go through the roof.”

A resident of Bedford, Nicole plans on continuing to fight for her Local 400 sisters and brothers, to improve working conditions, and to hold Kroger management accountable for as long as it takes. She has already made a profound positive difference in the lives of fellow members, and she’s going to keep doing more to right the wrongs she sees.

 

West Virginia Kroger Contract Negotiations Begin

This week we spent two days meeting with Kroger to negotiate our new collective bargaining agreement. Our current agreement expires on October 7, and we are working hard to get a fair agreement. This week, we exchanged some initial proposals and let the company know that we expect a fair contract that allows us to share in the success we have built at Kroger.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to keep you updated as we meet with the company. We also need you to have our backs in the stores. Kroger needs to know that we are willing to do whatever it takes to get a fair contract that rewards our hard work. We will be in the stores, along with your contract action team members, union representatives, and other staff from the union asking you to participate in actions, sign petitions, and enforce our contract. In order for us to be successful in negotiating a fair deal, we need everyone to participate.

Sign up for text alerts, check in with your shop steward or representative about what you can do to be involved, and look for us and other representatives from the union in the your store. We deserve a fair contract, and we can win one. Thank you for your hard work and continued support.

In Solidarity,

The 2017 Kroger West Virginia Bargaining Committee: Wayne, Billy, Tami, Alan, and Victoria

Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our next union contract with Kroger, we are committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text WV to 698-329.

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698329.

Print the Flier (PDF)

Meet the Team Negotiating Our Next Contract with Kroger in West Virginia

Introducing the 2017 Kroger West Virginia bargaining committee! Pictured left to right: Wayne Stanley, Kroger 753, Parkersburg, WV; Billy Caldwell, Kroger 784, Scott Depot, WV; Tami Faulknier, Kroger 768, Dunbar, WV; Alan Nuckels, Kroger 780, Oak Hill, WV; Victoria Marano, Kroger 755, Morgantown, WV.

We are your 2017 Kroger bargaining committee! We are Local 400 members who have volunteered to help negotiate our next union contract at Kroger in West Virginia.

As we open contract negotiations in the coming days, we will invite you to take action with us to keep the pressure on the company to bargain a fair contract. If you see one of us in your store, don’t hesitate to talk to us, ask us questions, or make suggestions. We want to hear from you. We need your ideas and we need your participation to succeed.

The only way we will win a better contract is if we all stand united, stay informed, and take action together. We must show Kroger that we are united for a fair contract and we are willing to do whatever it takes to get the deal we deserve. We’re ready to fight for what we deserve, and we need you to be ready too. Let’s do this!

Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our next union contract with Kroger, we are committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. By signing up for text alerts, you’ll get the latest updates immediately!

To sign up, just text WV to 698-329.

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698329.

Kroger Associates Start To Receive Back Pay Checks

As announced last week, Kroger owes over $300,000 in back pay. This week, Local 400 members started to receive their checks!

Without a union, that money would be lost to us. But, thanks to the Kroger associates who made sure that our union contract was enforced, we are able to fight for and win every penny of the money that we have earned.

The story — Back in 2013, Local 400 members caught Kroger cheating full-time associates out of their holiday pay by scheduling them fewer hours on weeks with holidays, in violation of our union contract.

The violations occurred during holiday weeks from Independence Day 2013 through New Year’s Day 2015. Some associates were cheated out of more than $1,200 in lost pay.

Kroger refused to pay up, so we took our case to a neutral arbitrator and asked him to order Kroger to pay. Although Kroger threw up delay after delay, we never gave up. Finally, our persistence has paid off. This week, Kroger began mailing out back pay checks. And because they took so long to pay us what we are owed, Kroger has to pay interest as well.

Victory! 811 Kroger Associates to Receive Over $300,000 in Back Pay PLUS Interest!

When it comes to full-time work, our union contract is very clear: Kroger can’t cut our hours during holiday weeks unless we agree to it in advance. Back in 2013, Local 400 members caught Kroger cheating full-time associates out of their holiday pay by scheduling them fewer hours on weeks with holidays, in violation of our union contract.

The violations occurred during holiday weeks from Independence Day 2013 through New Year’s Day 2015. Some associates were cheated out of more than $1,200 in lost pay.

Kroger refused to pay up, so we took our case to a neutral arbitrator and asked him to order Kroger to pay. Although Kroger threw up delay after delay, we never gave up. Finally, our persistence has paid off. This week, Kroger began mailing out back pay checks. And because they took so long to pay us what we are owed, Kroger has to pay interest as well.

All told, Kroger will pay eligible current, former and retired full-time associates over $300,000 in back pay plus interest!

Without a union, that money would be lost to us. But, thanks to the Kroger associates who made sure that our union contract was enforced, we are able to fight for and win every penny of the money that we have earned.

If you feel that Kroger owes you money, contact your union representative immediately.

 

Print the Flier (PDF)

Save the Date! Kroger West Virginia Contract Meetings

Local 400 shop stewards from West Virginia Kroger stores pose for a group photo during a meeting on August 1, 2017.

What do you want in your next Kroger contract?

Join us for an upcoming union contract meeting to help us to shape our strategy and prioritize our goals for contract negotiations. Your input will help us put together proposals well in advance of the actual contract negotiations, and it will help us fight hardest for the things you and your coworkers want most.

All meetings will run from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

CLARKSBURG/BRIDGEPORT AREA
August 28, 2017
Bridgeport Conference Center, 300 Conference Center Way, Bridgeport, WV 26330

PARKERSBURG AREA
August 29, 2017
Comfort Inn & Suites, 167 Elizabeth Pike, Mineral Wells, WV 26150

CHARLESTON AREA
August 30, 2017
Embassy Suites, 300 Court Street, Charleston, WV 25301

HUNTINGTON AREA
August 31, 2017
Holiday Inn & Suites, 3551 U.S. Route 60 E, Barboursville, WV 25504

BECKLEY AREA
September 1, 2017
Country Inn & Suites, 2120 Harper Road, Beckley, WV 25801

Please plan to attend any one of these contract meetings. You should receive a card in the mail inviting you to the meetings. We need to hear what YOU want to see in your upcoming contract, so make sure to be there!

Kroger Shop Steward Wins Promotions, Raises for 10 Members

Drema Trent, a shop steward at Kroger #322 in Vinton, Va., won raises for ten courtesy clerks at her store by enforcing the contract.

If you work at a Kroger store in the Roanoke region, you know courtesy clerks have a tough job to do.  They are the lowest paid employees in the store and have little to no opportunity for advancement.

Kroger justifies this practice by saying courtesy clerks are only responsible for a limited set of duties – such as bagging groceries and returning shopping carts. If a courtesy clerk is assigned work above and beyond their normal duties, he or she is supposed to get paid more for doing that work. But we all know that more than not, Kroger is cheating these workers out of the higher pay they deserve.

When Drema Trent saw courtesy clerks working the cash registers at her Kroger store, she decided to do something about it.

A shop steward and front-end clerk at Kroger #322 in Vinton, Va., Drema took photos of every courtesy clerk working a register. She talked with them and had them sign forms testifying that they were assigned work beyond the scope of a courtesy clerk’s responsibilities. She then sent the information to her Local 400 representative, Steve Meador, who verified the details and took it to management.

The result? Ten courtesy clerks were promoted to front-end clerks and given raises. And Kroger now faces arbitration over whether the store violated the contract’s “three strikes” policy against misusing courtesy clerks, which would eliminate the position entirely.

“It felt really good to enforce the contract and get results for the young men and women involved,” Drema said. “They were really happy about it. And it improved morale on the front end.”

Drema makes it a priority to sign new employees up as Local 400 members—and this action certainly provided a reminder about why joining their union is the best investment they can make in their future. “I’ve got a good rapport with the younger people,” she said. “I explain to them what a union is, since many of them don’t actually know that. I talk about how our union gets them better wages and benefits, and how if you ever get in trouble, you won’t have to go alone, one of us will be with you to make sure you’re treated fairly.

“I also discuss how fantastic our insurance is,” she added. “I was in a car accident last year and had to be out for more than half a year. My health costs were covered and our union paid me for six months.

“And then I talk about my daughter, who’s 22, started at Kroger when she was 14, and now works full-time with full benefits,” Drema said. “This also makes them see the advantage of joining Local 400.”

Drema started at Kroger 10 years ago. It was her first union job, and the fact that workers had Local 400 representation was a big reason why she wanted to work there. She became a shop steward nearly two years ago. “I have kind of a big mouth,” she said, “and knew everybody in the store, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.”

She attended some of the union meetings last year during negotiations over the current Kroger-Roanoke contract. “It was the first time I’d been to one and it was a very powerful thing to witness,” she recalled. “I’d like to be involved in future negotiations.”

For Drema, Kroger is a family business. In addition to her 22-year-old daughter, Katie Robertson, her 33-year-old daughter, Jennifer Trent, also works at Kroger and is interested in becoming a shop steward. She also has a 24-year-old son who worked at Kroger for five years before moving to another job, and an older son who is 36. She lives in Thaxton.

“It’s really important to have a voice to speak for you other than just yourself,” Drema said. “If you’re at Kroger, you have somebody on your side—your union. And I think we have 10 of my Local 400 sisters and brothers at my store who can testify to that.”

Work at Kroger? Ignore This Sign!

UFCW Local 400 members have reported seeing these misleading signs posted in Kroger stores throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

It’s come to our attention that many Kroger managers are posting a “speed limit” sign in some stores that reads “minimum speed 55 cases per hour.”

Under your union contract, you cannot be compelled to stock 55 cases per hour. This is only a recommended guideline. You cannot be disciplined for failing to stock 55 cases per hour.

If you are threatened with discipline, contact your union rep immediately: 1-800-638-0800

To make this clear, we’ve created a sign of our own. Ask your Local 400 union rep for a copy or print the sign and post it in your store.

Print this Sign (11″ x 17″ PDF)

Kroger Settles with NLRB for Breaking Labor Law — Look for This Notice in Your Store

Kroger Settlement Notice

If your store is listed below and you do not see a notice similar to this one posted in a place where all employees have access, contact your representative at 1800-638-0800.

In May 2016, Kroger employees and Local 400 staff were at stores throughout the Roanoke region talking to customers about the company’s latest awful, insulting contract proposal. Customers were shocked to learn that even though Kroger made a record-breaking $2.4 billion in profits in 2015 alone, the company was still refusing to share the wealth with its employees, who were working hard every day to make the company a success. Shoppers signed cards of support and handed them to the store managers as an act of solidarity with Local 400 members.

Unfortunately, Kroger reacted by threatening workers for talking with customers and demanding that they leave. At some stores managers called the police, even though it was clear that no laws were being violated. Ironically, it was the actions of these Kroger store managers that were a clear violation of the law.

Kroger employees filed “unfair labor practice” charges against Kroger for violating federal labor law, which protects union workers’ ability to exercise their rights without retaliation by their employer.

Fast forward to today when the National Labor Relations Board, which prosecutes companies who violate labor law, and Kroger, have reached a settlement and have issued a notice that should be printed and posted on an official National Labor Relations Board notice form in the stores listed below. If you are in one of these stores and do not see this notice displayed where all employees have access to read it, please contact your representative toll free at 1-800-638-0800.

Store 367
1805 W. State of Franklin Rd.
Johnson City, TN

Store 328
1664 E. Stone Dr.
Kingsport, TN

Store 402
1322 South Main St.
Blacksburg, VA

Store 345
555 N. Franklin St.
Christiansburg, VA

Store 239
1904 Emmet St.
Charlottesville, VA

Store 326
2012 Ward Rd
Lynchburg, VA

Store 327
7801 Timberlake Rd
Lynchburg, VA

Store 408
4119 Boonesboro Rd
Lynchburg, VA

Store 202
4488 Electric Rd
Roanoke, VA

Store 226
1477 W. Main St.
Salem, VA

Victory! All Courtesy Clerks Promoted at Kroger Store in Lynchburg

Member activism and the hard work of Local 400 shop steward Mary Little won a landmark victory at a Kroger store—all courtesy clerks were promoted to front end clerks, gaining raises, benefits, holiday pay and paid vacations in the process.

In fact, all Local 400 members working at Kroger under the Roanoke and West Virginia contracts have the power to make the same gains at their stores if management regularly assigns courtesy clerks tasks beyond the scope of their position, such as stocking shelves or providing break relief for cashiers.

Thanks to tough negotiating by Kroger members, the current contracts inRoanoke and West Virginia state clearly that if management at any store misuses courtesy clerks in this way three times, all courtesy clerks are promoted and the position is eliminated. It doesn’t matter how far apart the violations happen or whether they involve different managers or courtesy clerks—it’s “three strikes and you’re out!”

At Kroger #408 on Boonsboro Road in Lynchburg, Mary Little uncovered three such violations. They took place this fall, involving two courtesy clerks and two store managers.

“I saw that one courtesy clerk was manning the register,” Mary said. “I made sure what his classification was, and then I snapped a picture. They asked me what was going on and I explained why I did it. The courtesy clerk said he’d been working as a cashier for a while. I took it to the store manager; he blamed it on the courtesy clerk and said he’d deal with it. But he didn’t. Because several weeks later, I caught the same violation.

“A few weeks after that, I caught a different courtesy clerk working as a cashier and she told me she’d been doing it for almost a year,” Mary recalled. “Management did promote her and gave her back pay, which was good. She was very grateful, said she’d put her back pay in the bank and would use it toward college.

“Most important, this was the third violation,” she said. “So my representative and I put the wheels in motion to enforce the contract.” On January 6, 2017, Kroger confirmed the workers’ victory in a letter, stating:

A copy of the statement signed by Kroger announcing that all courtesy clerks at a store in Lynchburg would be promoted and the courtesy clerk job classification would be eliminated at the store entirely.

Store 408 will no longer hire associates into the Courtesy Clerk classification. All associates currently classified as a Courtesy Clerk will be reclassified as a Front End Clerk effective Sunday, January 8, 2016. All future associates being hired for the courtesy clerk position will now be hired and classified as a Front End Clerk for the duration of the existing contract.

This was a huge achievement, but Mary isn’t resting on her laurels. She travels to other Krogers on her two days off.  “I’m going to go to every shop steward,” she said. “I’m going to talk to them, hand them the playbook on how to do this, and tell them how we did it at our store. I’ll coach them, because all courtesy clerks deserve the same raises and benefits as the rest of us.

It’s not that hard to do,” Mary explained. “You just have to be focused and you have to pay attention to your surroundings. You can do your work and also look out for people at the same time. You have to know who your courtesy clerks are. Communication is the number one thing.”

“This is one area where it’s relatively easy for members to make a difference and improve the lives of their brothers and sisters,” said Local 400 representative Philip Frisina, who serves Kroger #408 and other stores in the region. “The process is so simple. If you see a courtesy clerk given non-courtesy clerk tasks, take photos, document the violation, and contact your representative. That’s all it took to get our members the promotions they deserved at this store, and that’s all it will take at any other store. The power is in our members’ hands.”

Under the Kroger collective bargaining agreements in West Virginia and in the Roanoke region, after the first written complaint, the store must stop assigning improper tasks to courtesy clerks. After the second written complaint, any affected courtesy clerks must start getting paid at the part-time clerk hourly rate effective immediately upon the date the written complaint is received. And after the third written complaint, the courtesy clerk classification is eliminated at the store.

“I believe everyone should be treated equally,” Mary said. “Courtesy clerks have a hard job. They’re out there in the snow and sleet pushing carts and I always thought it was wrong for Kroger not to give them benefits. They are my co-workers and my friends, and I’m going to do whatever I can to help them out. If I can make a difference in one person’s life, I’m all for it.

“It’s a wonderful thing that we did,” Mary emphasized, “and I’m just going to do everything I can to get every shop steward on board so we can get all of these courtesy clerks what they deserve.”

How YOU Can Take Action

If you work as a courtesy clerk, or if you see a courtesy clerk at your store doing work he or she shouldn’t have to do, you should file a written complaint. Remember, if this happens three times at your store, the courtesy clerk “classification” will be eliminated at your store and courtesy clerks will be promoted.

Here’s how you can make a difference:

  1. Ask your rep for a copy of the Courtesy Clerk Playbook – inside you’ll find all documentation and forms you need to properly file a complaint with your store manager.
  2. Take a photo of the courtesy clerk performing duties outside the scope of his/her job.
  3. Take a photo of the schedule for that day.
  4. Fill out a Notice of Complaint form and take a photo of the complaint after you’ve filled it out. The form can be found in the Courtesy Clerk Playbook.
  5. Give the completed Notice of Complaint to your store manager.
  6. Fill out an Incident Report form to document the violation. Write down anything the manager said after you delivered the complaint. Note the date, time, name of the courtesy clerk, and the name of the person you believe assigned the courtesy clerk improper duties. Take a photo of the form after you’ve filled it out.
  7. Send everything to Local 400 for our records, including the photos described above to:

Alan Hanson, UFCW Local 400
ahanson@local400.org
(301) 256-6405