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Kroger Richmond/Tidewater Bargaining Update: Do You Need More Hours?

 

As bargaining for our new contract continues, we are working hard at the negotiating table on the three things we know we deserve and have earned: better pay, affordable health care, and respect for our union. At the same time, we know that in order to take care of ourselves and our families we need to have access to the hours we need to take advantage of fair wages, become eligible for affordable health care, and get the respect we deserve.

 

Over the past several days, we have been out in the stores collecting interest letters from members who want more hours and full-time jobs. Article 11.4 of our current contract outlines the process for making your desire for a full-time job known, and we want to make sure everyone who is interested in more hours has the opportunity to fill out a letter and let Kroger know that we have earned more full-time job opportunities.

 

If you have not had the opportunity to fill out a letter yet, please contact your shop steward or call your representative now so we can make sure you have the opportunity to fill one out as soon as possible. We know that Kroger has been successful and growing over the last four years of our current contract and in order to share in that growth and success we need access to more hours and more full-time jobs.

 

We are going to continue to work at the table, and we need you to continue to stand up in the stores. Sign an interest letter, make sure new employees at your store are joining the union, and if you haven’t yet, sign up for text message alerts so you are the first to get updates by texting “Richmond” to 698-329.

 

We work hard every day and have made Kroger successful in a very competitive market. They have been able to make a profit, open new stores, and buy other chains. We have earned the right to share in that success and are ready to do what it takes to get our fair share and, as always, we will continue to keep you updated every step of the way.

Print the Flier (PDF)

 

 

 

Kroger Agrees to Allow Employees to Transfer to New Store

We are pleased to announce that Kroger has agreed to allow all interested associates at store #536 in Norfolk to transfer to the former Farm Fresh across the street if and when it reopens as a Kroger store.

If you refused to be silent, if you signed a petition, if wrote a letter, if you joined a protest – this would not have happened without you.

Kroger says it still hasn’t finalized plans, but the company has signed a legally binding agreement that protects your jobs in the event the store closes:

  • If Kroger closes store #536 and opens the former Farm Fresh store within six months, then you may transfer to the newly opened store if you choose.
  • You will not have to quit and reapply for your job.

As we’ve always said, “together, we can make Kroger better.” And make no mistake – we did this together. By sticking together as a union family, we successfully protected our jobs.

Now we must turn our attention to our next contract. We want a fair contract with better pay, affordable healthcare, and respect for our union. But this won’t be easy. We must continue to stick together to make Kroger better and get the fair contract we deserve. We know we can do it.

Joint Statement from Kroger & UFCW Local 400

The following statement was released jointly by Kroger & UFCW Local 400 on July 17, 2018:

Kroger Mid-Atlantic and UFCW Local 400 Reach Agreement Regarding Store #536

We are pleased to share that after some discussion, Kroger Mid-Atlantic and UFCW Local 400 have reached an agreement regarding the potential opening of Store #576 located at 230 East Little Creek Road, and its possible impact on current associates at Store #536 in Norfolk, VA.

At this time, the Company has not finalized plans for opening Store #576, nor has it made a decision to close Store #536.

In the event that Kroger Mid-Atlantic decides to close Store #536 and open Store #576, the Company and the union have agreed to transfer all interested associates to the newly opened store. This agreement is good for a period of time up to six months after the potential closing of Store #536.

Kroger Mid-Atlantic and the union commit to communicate with you when decisions are made.

Local 400 Member Helps Organize Union At His Second Job

Darius Smith, who served on the union bargaining committee, addresses the crowd at a Giant Food mass meeting in Washington, DC.

Two years ago, Darius Smith, a courtesy clerk at Giant #347 in Kettering, Md., was looking for a new job. He was feeling underappreciated, and he often found himself doing tasks that were not in his job description. He thought maybe he had simply gone as far as he could with Giant Food.

But when he talked to his union representative, Heather Thomas, about job opportunities at the union, she had another idea. She told him about the collective bargaining process and asked him to join the bargaining committee, and Darius agreed. He realized that perhaps his work at Giant was not done yet.

Darius had never participated in a union committee before, and he admits, “all I knew [about unions] was paying union dues until I talked to my representative.” He describes being a member of the 2016 Giant bargaining committee and attending listening sessions as “eye opening for me, because it was like, ‘Wow! Everyone is going through the same thing.’”

About a year ago, he started working as a caterer at the World Bank. Although his first impression was of a “family oriented” company, it wasn’t long before, “I started to notice issues [with how they treated us], and we had to deal with them pretty much on our own,” he says. “I don’t know if I was nervous at first but when I saw problems arising I was like, ‘Yeah, we need a union.’”

In April, Darius attended the bi-annual Labor Notes Conference in Chicago with other Local 400 members. He expressed his frustrations about his new job to UFCW Local 400 Mobilization Director Alan Hanson. Darius told Alan about how he and his co-workers were being asked to take on larger tasks than they could handle; how some of his co-workers, many of whom are immigrants, felt that their employer was guilty of discrimination; and how, in January, the World Bank had started cutting hours of both full-time and on-call employees without warning or explanation.

“The World Bank is about ending poverty all over the world but if you look at how they treat us it’s completely hypocritical,” Smith says.

Alan put Darius in touch with UNITE HERE Local 23, which primarily represents workers in the hospitality industry.

Darius was one of the few World Bank catering employees who had experience with a union, and he didn’t hesitate to take the lead in helping his co-workers get organized, although he says they didn’t need much prodding. In fact, he describes going to talk to a co-worker who Darius had heard might be hesitant about joining a union. By the time Darius got a chance to talk to him, he was already wearing a union button. “I guess other people had talked to him already,” he says. “I think he just didn’t really know about it [at first] but by the day of the election he was really ready to go.”

It seems this was true of most of his co-workers, 89% of whom voted to join the union in June.

But Darius knows from his experiences with Giant that the fight is far from over. “I really look forward to bargaining with the company, having everyone come together to formulate a better contract,” he says.

Along with experience and knowledge of the bargaining process, Darius’ contributes a great amount of spirit to his bargaining unit. “At Giant we had a lot of faith, and I think I can bring that, helping people keep faith, keep strong, keep motivated,” he says.

His experience as an assistant pastor at Hope in Christ Ministry helps him do this. It also helps him connect with his co-workers at the World Bank, one of whom is a priest and many of whom he believes to be similarly motivated by faith.

Darius hopes to be on the World Bank bargaining committee, and though formal listening sessions haven’t started yet, it seems that one of his greatest strengths is that he is always listening. He’s already gotten a lot of insight from co-workers about what their demands are, and he says that being part of Local 23 has given him an idea of what wages and contracts look like throughout the industry.

But for Darius, being part of a union means more than a new and improved contract. “When you’re part of a union you have something to look up to,” he says.

He also says that one of the most valuable things he has gotten from his involvement with the union is an education. “I’m not in college, I don’t have a college degree but I’m working with legislators and affecting laws, doing all these things people think you can’t do if you don’t go to college,” he says. “There’s more ways to succeed than college and I feel like I’m on that road.”

Now he is looking for ways to apply all that he has learned, and is learning, to his life beyond work. “Now that I have that union backing and that ministerial backing, it’s just a matter of finding that avenue, of how can I apply my skills to other social and community activism,” he says. “This is still very new for me but I know that the union can open doors for that.”

Kroger Shop Steward Awarded Back Pay After Unjust Firing

Judy Cook, a 39-year Kroger employee, was awarded $3,500 in back pay after being unjustly fired.

As the saying goes,“with a union contract, your boss can’t fire you without just cause. But without a union, your boss can fire you just ’cause.”

Over 39 hardworking years at Kroger, Judy Cook had a perfect performance record. She received glowing reviews, was never written up, was never late and hadn’t even taken a sick day for 25 years.

Then one day, all of a sudden, Judy was suspended without pay. Kroger charged her with holding back marked-down items for herself, rather than putting them on the shelves. But she had done no such thing.

“It totally destroyed me,” Judy said, “because I had devoted my life to Kroger. I could not believe they could do anything like this. It killed my soul. You put your heart and soul into a company and this is what they do? And what bothered me most of all was the idea that people who didn’t know me would think I was capable of doing what Kroger said I did. Kroger didn’t care that they destroyed me.”

A back door receiver and shop steward at Kroger #328 in Kingsport, Tenn., Judy was well respected by her coworkers.

“Everyone looks up to her,” said her representative, Mark Collins. “I never heard a negative and her name mentioned in the same sentence. She is a genuinely good-hearted, great person. Why Kroger put her in its crosshairs is beyond me. She’s never even had a speeding ticket. She practices what she preaches and she lives her life how you’re supposed to. It ripped my heart out. Kroger didn’t give two squats about what it did to her.”

If she was not a union member, at this point, Judy would have little recourse. She would probably just lose her job. But thanks to her union contract, Judy is protected from being unjustly fired without proper cause. Thanks to her contract grievance procedure, Judy could defend herself against the false accusations. And that’s just what she did.

Mark filed a grievance on Judy’s behalf, and went through three steps—first a grievance meeting at the store, then a meeting with the human resources coordinator, and finally a meeting with Kroger’s labor relations manager. Thanks to Judy and Mark’s persistence, Kroger ultimately agreed to allow Judy to go back to work and to receive full back pay of $3,500 for the five-and-a-half weeks she was suspended.

“I was ecstatic that I won my grievance,” Judy said. “It allowed me to hold my head up when I went back and not be ashamed. I had told Mark that under no circumstances would I go back to Kroger until my name was cleared. I wasn’t doing this for the back pay—I was doing it because I would not allow my name, my reputation, to be destroyed.”

“Kroger had zero evidence for their charges,” Mark said. “They went on a fishing expedition. The company grabbed at every straw they could, but they couldn’t get around the fact that she was 100 percent innocent. I’m just glad Kroger finally recognized they were in the wrong here.”

Judy was so distressed at her ordeal that after her return to work, she decided to retire. “It totally destroyed any feeling I had for this company,” she said. But before she left, Judy made it her mission to encourage as many people as she possibly could at her store to join the union. And she succeeded, signing up dozens of new members, including one person who had refused to join for 10 long years.

“I’m close to all the people at my store,” Judy said, “And they banded together to support me, even signing letters on my behalf. When I came back, I told every one of them who hadn’t yet joined Local 400, ‘If they could do this to me, they can do it to you. If you don’t have a union to protect you, you have no one and there’s nothing you can do.’ And they got it.”

Judy’s entire family has worked at Kroger and is 100 percent union. This includes her husband, who’s retired, her daughters, and two sons-in-law. In fact Judy’s daughter took over for Judy as Kroger #328 shop steward and signed up a new member on her very first day.

“I cannot say enough about our union,” Judy said. “I am so proud we’re a union family. Local 400 is the only protection Kroger associates have. Without our union, I shudder to think what things would be like. I would have been wrongly fired, and we’d be giving up our pay, our benefits, our work week, our vacation. Look how employers treat their workers when they don’t have unions.

“While this whole experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, nothing can top my gratitude for what Mark and Local 400 did for me, and I am so pleased I was able to give a little bit back before my retirement,” she added. “And I’m proud my daughter is now carrying the torch.”

Hundreds Rally for a #BetterKroger in Roanoke

On June 12, 2018, hundreds of Kroger associates and their supporters held a rally outside of the Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division corporate office in Roanoke, Virginia.

The protest centered around a Kroger store in Norfolk, Virginia, where dozens of long-time employees could lose their jobs as a result of the company’s recent purchase of eight Farm Fresh stores in the Hampton Roads region.

In March 2018, Kroger announced plans to buy eight Farm Fresh stores in the Hampton Roads region, renovate them, and reopen them as Kroger stores.  But one of the locations Kroger purchased is directly across the street from an existing store in Norfolk, Virginia.

Now, it is only a matter of time before the store closes and employees are concerned about the future of their jobs. Many have worked at Kroger for years – even decades. They have asked if they will be allowed to transfer to the new store across the street, but after several months, Kroger still refuses to give them straight answers.

Every employee in the store signed a petition demanding answers and delivered it to their store manager. A week later, they invited Kroger to answer questions and address their concerns at a public town hall. Dozens of store associates showed up, but Kroger refused to send a representative.

Having exhausted all proper channels, on June 12, 2018, hundreds of Kroger associates and their supporters held a rally outside of the Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division corporate office in Roanoke, Virginia.

The protesters delivered five grocery carts of petitions to the Kroger office. The petitions were signed by Kroger associates and customers from throughout the region, as well as fellow union members from other grocery chains, and called on the company to meet with associates and assure them that they will have the opportunity to transfer to the new store across the street without losing the benefits they have earned.

View photos from the rally and learn more at BetterKroger.org

June 12: Rally for a Better Kroger

Kroger members in Norfolk are at risk of losing their jobs, their healthcare, and their retirement benefits. We need your help to save their jobs!

We have gathered signatures on a petition from Kroger associates, customers and community supporters calling on Kroger to meet with us

On Tuesday, June 12th, we’re going to Kroger’s corporate office in Roanoke to deliver our petition straight to Jerry Clontz, President of the Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division.

Join us!

Rally for a #BetterKroger

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
First Wesleyan Church
3706 Peters Creek Rd, Roanoke, VA

Learn more at www.BetterKroger.org

 

POSTPONED: Macy’s Contract Meeting May 20th Postponed Until Further Notice

The Macy’s Bargaining Committee – pictured left to right: Bianca Morris (Marlow Heights), Arleetta Hunter (Montgomery Mall), Mary Burns-O’Connor (Bowie), Kimberly Mitchell (Metro Center), Lewis Mattison (Montgomery Mall)

The Macy’s contract meeting previously scheduled for Sunday, May 20th has been postponed until further notice.

We began these contract negotiations united with our brothers and sisters from UFCW Local 21 working at Macy’s stores in Seattle. By standing united coast to coast, we are able to work together to negotiate better contracts for all of us.

Thanks to all of you who took action for a fair contract, we have successfully reached a tentative agreement with Macy’s that we are prepared to recommend for ratification. But while our contract talks have concluded, negotiations are still underway between Macy’s and our fellow union members at UFCW Local 21 in Seattle.

We’re in this together. We started this united coast to coast, and we’re going to finish it united coast to coast. That’s why, with the unanimous support of your bargaining committee, we have decided we will not vote on our new contract until Macy’s reaches an agreement with our brothers and sisters on the west coast. We will continue to wear our buttons and take action in solidarity with our Macy’s coworkers in Seattle.

Rest assured, we expect the wage increases and other gains we have made in our new contract to take effect retroactively. We are also aware that open enrollment for your health insurance begins on Tuesday, May 22. Later this week, we will be giving you additional information about health care changes that are included in the tentative agreement so you will have all of the information you need in order to make your enrollment selection.

We will notify all Macy’s members once our contract meeting has been rescheduled. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and comments.

May 22 & 23: Fight For A Better Contract At Kroger

BETTER PAY + AFFORDABLE HEALTHCARE + RESPECT

Join us for an upcoming union contract meeting to help us to shape our strategy and prioritize our goals for contract negotiations.

We are fighting for a fair contract with better pay, affordable healthcare, and respect for our union. We need to hear what YOU want to see in your upcoming contract, so make sure to be there!

Please plan to attend one of the meetings listed below. You are welcome to attend either of them.

You should also receive a card in the mail inviting you to the meeting. Please bring this card with you to whichever meeting you attend.

Kroger Union Contract Meetings

Richmond Area – May 22, 2018
6:00 pm
Comfort Suites Innsbrook
4051 Innslake Drive, Glen Allen, VA, 23060

Norfolk Area – May 23, 2018
6:00 pm
Iron Workers Local 79
5307 E Virginia Beach Blvd # 102, Norfolk, VA 23502

 

Sign Up for Text Alerts

As we negotiate our next union contract with Kroger, we’re committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. With so many ways to stay in the loop, don’t get left out of the conversation!

Text Richmond to 698-329

Your wireless provider’s message and data rates may apply – you may opt out any time by texting STOP to 698-329

May 10: Join Us for the Norfolk Kroger Jobs Town Hall

Kroger associates gathered to protest the rumored closure of their store Norfolk.

Norfolk Kroger Jobs Town Hall
6:00pm, Thursday, May 10
Wesley Grace United Methodist Church
288 E. Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, VA
At the I-64W exit ramp for E. Little Creek Road near Wards Corner

In March, Kroger announced plans to buy eight Farm Fresh stores in the Tidewater region in southern Virginia. The company plans to renovate the Farm Fresh locations and reopen them as Kroger stores.

But one of the locations Kroger purchased is directly across the street from an existing Kroger store at 205 East Little Creek Rd in Norfolk. Naturally, employees there want to know what will happen to their jobs when the new Kroger store opens up across the street. Kroger obviously doesn’t plan to operate two stores so close to each other, so associates are concerned that their store will close soon.

Employees have asked if they will be allowed to transfer to the new store across the street, but Kroger has refused to give them straight answers.

Last week, associates from the Norfolk Kroger store circulated a petition demanding to know if and when their store will be closed, and if they will have the opportunity to transfer across the street without losing the benefits they have earned. Nearly every single employee at the store signed the petition.

On Thursday, May 9, they delivered the petition to management, flanked by local TV camera crews and community supporters from Norfolk Branch NAACP, New Virginia Majority, and the Virginia AFL-CIO.

The event was widely publicized on local news and Kroger eventually responded with a public statement:

Our focus right now is on interviewing and onboarding former Farm Fresh associates to welcome them to our Kroger team.

We think it’s time for Kroger to focus on Kroger associates. We think Kroger employees deserve to know what will happen to their store and to their jobs. We think our members deserve to keep the pay, seniority and benefits they have earned and they should have the opportunity to transfer to the new store across the street when it opens.

Join us for a town hall with Kroger associates, customers, neighbors and elected officials to help us demand answers and preserve good jobs at Kroger!

Norfolk Kroger Jobs Town Hall
6:00pm, Thursday, May 10
Wesley Grace United Methodist Church
288 E. Little Creek Rd, Norfolk, VA
At the I-64W exit ramp for E. Little Creek Road near Wards Corner

 

 

Outspoken Kroger Shop Steward Stands Up for Her Coworkers

Courtney Meadows speaks to WVVA news during a #BetterKroger rally in October 2017.

Courtney Meadows speaks her mind—and for the past year, she’s been doing it to great effect.

A Local 400 member for the past seven years who works as lead file maintenance clerk at Kroger #805 in Beckley, W.Va., Courtney was asked to serve on the Contract Action Team during last year’s bargaining over a new contract. Her shop steward at the time said, “There’s your spitfire,” and that was an understatement.

“I won’t hesitate to tell a manager to stop being a jerk and start treating us with respect,” Courtney said. And she was just as outspoken when she went into other Kroger stores to inform and mobilize her sisters and brothers for the contract battle.

“I would ask folks to show up at our rallies and tell management that we’re not going to take any crappy offers,” she said. “We’ve got to get management’s attention.”

At the first rally, between 30 and 40 members attended. But by the last one, Courtney had tripled turnout to 90.

“I just tried to make sure we showed Kroger we’re better people and that we’re not going to stoop to their level of pettiness,” she said. “We kept everything peaceful and respectful, and we had the impact we needed.”

When members voted to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement with Kroger in West Virginia, Courtney was both relieved and proud. “I was very glad of what we accomplished,” she explained. “Like Mark [Federici] said, there’s never been and never will be a perfect contract. But for us to get the only Kroger contract not to lose any benefits and to get wage increases, that was huge. We stuck together, we fought together and we got what we needed.”

In the midst of the contract battle, Courtney became a shop steward at her store. “My rep told me, ‘you’ve earned your stripes,’” she said. In addition, Courtney was asked to join a member organizing drive at Kroger stores in the Richmond/Tidewater area, which took place over 12 days in December.

“This was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Courtney said. “To come from an area with 100 percent membership and go into stores that had less than 50 percent because of Virginia’s ‘right to work’ law was an eye-opener. Some people didn’t know what a union was and others were scared. So I gave a crash course in union history, and I explained that Kroger can’t do a single thing to you for signing up—it’s your legal right.

“I also talked to them about our own bargaining experience in West Virginia,” she continued. “I went through how we got raises across the board, how we kept our health care the same and how even if the cost of the plan rises, Kroger will pay the difference. We even won the requirement that Kroger has to provide rubber boots for workers in the meat shop. And I explained the reason why we won these provisions is because we have 100 percent membership, and that’s how you can make the same gains here. That really grabbed their attention.

“So I think it was a huge accomplishment to get the applications we were able to get,” she said. “And I’d go back and do it again in a heartbeat.”

In January, Courtney traveled to Charleston to participate in Local 400’s and the West Virginia AFL-CIO’s Lobby Day.

A resident of Fairdale, W.Va., Courtney is looking forward to continuing to take on corporate greed through Local 400. “I’m tired of companies coming in and abusing their employees, and looking down on us because some of us don’t have a college education,” she said. “I’m tired of them making $2 billion in profits but only wanting to pay us just above minimum wage. I’m tired of [Kroger CEO] Rodney McMullen getting a $2 million dollar raise but only wanting to give us 25 cents an hour. And I want to see better working conditions, and no retaliation against people who file grievances.”

Courtney is equally focused on her job as a shop steward. “I talk to everyone and I tell them, ‘you cannot get in trouble for talking to me, they cannot say anything to you,’” she said. “Everything they say to me is confidential. And if they have a problem, I’m going to fight like hell to fix it.”

Her sisters and brothers at Kroger #805—and all Local 400 members—are fortunate to have this spitfire speaking her mind and fighting for them.