Kroger West Virginia Members: Be Prepared to Strike
On Friday, November 6, Kroger members working under our West Virginia contract voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s latest contract proposal and to approve a strike. For now, talks are continuing and we hope to negotiate a fair deal. But our members is united and stands ready to do what it takes to win a fair contract.
A strike is our last resort. But if and when a strike becomes necessary, it is important to be prepared.
Ten Steps to Prepare for a Strike
1. Update your contact information with the union.
Make sure the union has your current home address, cell phone number, and email address so you can stay informed on the latest developments.
2. Take stock of your financial situation.
Fill out a budget, reduce what spending you can, and try to save a little out of each paycheck – starting now.
3. Keep bills current.
Creditors are more likely to work with you when you’re on strike if you’ve paid your bills on time in the past.
4. Contact your utility companies.
Contact your utility companies (electric, water, gas, cable/Internet) to let them know you may have to go on strike and to ask about options for alternative payment plans.
5. Postpone major purchases.
If you can get by without making a major purchase, wait until the contract is settled.
6. Avoid credit purchases and reduce your credit card debt if you can.
You may rely on your credit card if you are on strike. Consider signing up for the Union Plus credit card, which is willing to work with union members on strike.
7. Stock up on food and medicine.
Use your health insurance to stock up on medicines you need and stock up on non-perishable food for the future.
8. Use your health insurance now.
Take advantage of your current health insurance coverage and schedule any doctors appointments you need for yourself and your children now.
9. File your taxes early.
Take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for free assistance with filing your taxes. Find a site nearest you on the IRS website.
10. Support your coworkers and stick together!
Frequently Asked Questions About Going On Strike
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received from Kroger West Virginia members about going on strike.
What are some of the next steps we will be taking?
On Friday, November 6, 2020, Kroger members working under our West Virginia contract voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s latest contract proposal and to approve a strike. For now, talks are continuing and we hope to negotiate a fair deal. Now that members have approved a strike, the union is authorized to call a strike at a time we determine is the most strategic. Before a strike could take place, our current contract extension would have to be canceled, which requires 72 hours’ notice by either party. A strike could only occur no less than 72 hours after notice is given. Be sure to sign up for text updates and stay tuned to the union website for the latest announcements.
The company told me they are investing a lot of money into this contract already and their offer keeps them competitive in the market while compensating us fairly. Is this true?
Beware of management misinformation and rumors. At a time like this, management tries to take advantage of employees’ fears of competition, profitability, and a strike to pressure them into accepting a sub-standard contract. We need to stand firm for what we deserve.
Will there be a strike at my store?
On Friday, November 6, 2020, Kroger members working under our West Virginia contract voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s latest contract proposal and to approve a strike. For now, talks are continuing and we hope to negotiate a fair deal. Before a strike could take place, our current contract extension would have to be canceled, which requires 72 hours’ notice by either party. A strike could only occur no less than 72 hours after notice is given. Be sure to sign up for text updates and stay tuned to the union website for the latest announcements.
If members vote to strike, what would happen?
Currently, we have a day-to-day contract extension in place with Kroger. That agreement requires us to give a 72-hour notice to Kroger to cancel the extension before a strike. The actual start date of a strike is a tactical decision and depends on a number of factors, including when it will have the biggest impact and if all other avenues of progress are exhausted. However, a strike cannot happen without a vote of the members approving it.
How long would a strike last?
There is no way to predict how long a strike would last. The 2019 Stop & Shop strike lasted 11 days. In 2003, the last time we had a strike under the Kroger West Virginia contract, it lasted two months. The Southern California grocery strike in 2003-2004, which involved Safeway/Albertsons, lasted four and a half months. The key to a successful strike is a united work force and support from our allies and the shoppers in the communities where we work.
Can I be fired for striking?
It is against the law for management to fire you because you exercise your legal right to strike.
Do I receive pay while on strike?
You do not receive pay from your employer while on strike, except for time you have already worked. The International Union will pay $100.00 a week beginning the eighth day of a strike. This means you will not get a strike pay check until after you have been on strike for two weeks. To be eligible for strike pay, you need to work your shifts on the picket line and be a member of the union. Your union also has a hardship fund to assist members whose families face particularly difficult financial situations. If you are in such a hardship position, please let your representative know so that we can arrange assistance. We also have several community partners including a credit union, many food banks and other services across the region to help us through a strike.
Can I get unemployment when on strike?
You are not eligible for unemployment benefits while on strike.
Do I accrue sick leave or vacation time when on strike?
You will not accrue sick leave or vacation while you are on strike.
Do I pay dues while on strike?
Members who are on strike or locked out do not pay dues but remain in good standing in the union. UFCW Local 400 has other members who work for other employers and even other industries who will still be working and paying dues which will help replenish the strike fund.
If I am not yet a member of the union, can I go on strike?
Yes. All employees in the bargaining unit are represented by the union. All employees, even those in their probationary period, have the legal right to strike and honor the picket line. Non-members within the bargaining unit have the same protection under the law as members do during a strike situation. However, you must be a member in order to receive strike pay and other resources your local union provides during the strike. If you are not a member and would like to become one to take advantage of these resources, contact your representative or shop steward to fill out a membership application as soon as possible.
Can I work other places while on strike?
Yes. However, in order to win a strike we must have everyone participate in strong picket lines. In order to receive strike pay, you must work your shifts on the picket line. If, for physical reasons, you cannot picket, there are other ways you can support the strike.
Can my friends and family join the picket line?
Yes! Our fight is our friend’s, families’ and communities’ fight. However, they will be required to abide by the same rules of conduct expected of all bargaining unit members. Violations of those rules will not be tolerated due to the potential legal liabilities involved.
What happens if I cross the picket line?
Whether or not you can cross a picket line is not a legal question, but rather a question of if you will stand by your co-workers and fight for a fair contract. Solidarity wins strikes and a better standard of living; breaks in solidarity only advance the interests of the companies. During a strike, the companies’ only interest is winning the strike and crossing the picket line will result in a weaker contract.
What can we expect from management as we organize for a strike?
Management will try very hard to scare employees into settling for less. The companies will likely put out information attempting to convince you to accept their offer or tell you they need more time at the bargaining table. You may be required to attend mandatory “informational” meetings on work time to hear why you should accept the employer contract offer. You have the right to express your opinion, counter misinformation, and take notes of what management says. Union members have the right to act together and it is illegal for management to threaten you or your employment in any way as you prepare for a potential strike. The companies need to know we are getting ready and we are serious.
What else are we going to do to win a fair contract?
The key ingredient to winning a fair contract is the unity and resolve of the membership. Each action we take is part of a broader plan to bring increasing pressure on the employers to change their contract offer. It’s important for each action to be well organized and have the participation of everyone. We have begun to get the public involved – through press coverage and our actions. Our customers, elected officials, and community allies have all joined our fight and we will also have the backing of other labor unions in the area. If we stay united, we can win a fair contract.
How can I get updated information on the status of negotiations?
Text alerts are the easiest way to stay up-to-date on the latest news from your union. To sign up, visit www.ufcw400.org/text.
These services and resources can help you while you’re on strike.
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