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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

 

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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

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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.

Sharing in the Success of an Expanding Kroger Presence in Hampton Roads

Yesterday, Kroger announced plans to purchase 18 Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy grocery stores in the Hampton Roads region. Ten of the stores will be operated under the Harris Teeter brand, while eight will be operated under the Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division.

Mark Federici, president of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, issued the following statement regarding the announcement:

“We were very excited to learn that Kroger Mid-Atlantic is using the profits and success our hardworking union members have built for them to purchase eight Farm Fresh stores in the Hampton Roads area. We are ready to welcome new members at these stores into our union family so they can have access to the competitive wages, benefits, and fair working conditions we have fought for and won over the years.

“As Division President Jerry Clontz acknowledged in his statement to us, it is our contribution every day that makes a difference in our customers’ lives. We are proud to be the reason they shop Kroger and the reason Kroger is able to grow.

“We look forward to welcoming associates at these new Kroger stores into our union family and to serving new customers at these locations. We are thankful for our customers loyalty to us – the people who serve them every day – and we will continue to reward that loyalty with hard work, dedication and customer service.”

Congratulations to ABC Drawing Winner, Chelsea Thompson

Local 400 member Chelsea Thompson from Kroger #316 in Princeton, West Virginia is the most recent winner of our Active Ballot Club drawing! Congratulations, Chelsea!

All across the country, corporations and the ultra-wealthy are funneling unprecedented amounts of money into our political system. Their goal is to create an unbalanced and unfair economy where wages are as low as possible and profits replace respect for the workers that created them.

The UFCW Active Ballot Club (ABC) seeks to level the playing field. By bringing together thousands of workers, our political concerns can be amplified to a decibel that is impossible to ignore. ABC supports pro-worker candidates and incumbents from all political parties and is the prominent political action committee dedicated to the interests of UFCW members nationwide.

By joining ABC, active members are automatically entered to win a monthly drawing. Learn more about the UFCW Active Ballot Club and talk to your rep about signing up today!

How to Call Off From Work at Kroger

If you can’t make it to work, you must call off or you could face discipline. However, many of our members are reporting that they have faced discipline even after calling off from work.

The process is outlined clearly in the Kroger policy manual: “If unable to report to work as scheduled, the associate will call store management or the person in charge in absence of store management at least two (2) hours prior to the start of the shift.”

To ensure you are calling off from work properly, please take the following steps:

  1. Call the store at least two hours before your shift and ask to speak to the manager or person in charge. Tell them you are unable to work.
  2. Write down the time, date, and name of person you talked to when you called and save the information for your records.
  3. If you are disciplined for any reason relating to your absence, contact your shop steward or union rep immediately. Be ready to share the information you wrote down.

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Kroger Associates Win Thousands of Dollars in Back Pay by Enforcing Union Contract

Ryan Kibble (right), a meatcutter at Kroger in Ripley, W.Va., was awarded $2,000 in back pay after the company was caught violating the seniority provisions of his union contract.

For Ryan Kibble, Chasity Moyers and more than a dozen other Kroger members in West Virginia and Ohio, justice has prevailed.

More than one year ago, they were denied promotions that rightfully should have been theirs due to the seniority provisions in their union contract.

“Seniority provisions are one of the most important protections in our union contracts,” explained Local 400 President Mark Federici. “By prioritizing the most senior employees for promotions and other benefits, seniority gives every worker the confidence of knowing that if you stick it out and pay your dues, then you will get ahead. It puts everyone on an even playing field and prevents managers from playing favorites and only promoting people they like.

“But, just like everything else in our contracts, the rules only protect us when we enforce them,” Federici added. “Ryan and Chasity did just that – and it paid off.”

Ryan Kibble was a full-time backup meat cutter at Kroger #708 in Ripley W.Va. In late 2016, he signed up for a backup customer service position at Kroger #799 in Belpre, Ohio, a move that would have cut his commute from his Parkersburg, W.Va. home from 45 minutes to just five minutes. However, the job was given to a part-time worker in violation of the contract. So Ryan filed a grievance.

“Kroger tried to pick and choose who they want,” Ryan said. “They claimed I had no skill for the position, but I had that job at a previous employer.”

After a lengthy back and forth, Ryan won his grievance in December and received $2,000 in back pay. While this victory gave him the right to take the backup customer service position, he had become a meat cutter at Kroger #799 in the midst of the grievance process and chose to stay in his current job.

“I was glad it was finally over,” he said. “And I was glad that Kroger finally had to pay for their mistake, which they need to do. You can’t set rules and then try to bend and break them whenever you want.”

Chasity Moyers had a similar experience. She was a full-time bakery clerk at Kroger #799 and signed up for a backup dairy position that opened up at her store. Someone else was given the job, and she soon realized she had more seniority than this person, so she also filed a grievance.

While her grievance was pending, the backup drug GM position came open at Kroger #799. “I signed up for that, too,” she said. “And I didn’t get that one either. So I had to file another grievance.”

A few months later, the backup drug GM position came open again and this time, she got it. But before she moved into that job, the head drug GM transferred and so Chasity leapfrogged to head drug GM.

Then, in December, she won her grievance and received nearly $1,200 in back pay.

“I was excited to win and receive the check,” she said. “To be honest, I had kind of forgotten about it because I was now in the job I wanted. But I’m really glad we enforced the contract.  Everybody has their own fair share in this company. This is a fair way to get a resolution out of something that didn’t work out, and I thank everybody who was involved.”

The Kroger West Virginia contract states that the company can award lead or department head jobs to individuals based on their fitness and ability, but when multiple candidates have similar qualifications, the person with the most seniority will receive the promotion. But in many cases, these guidelines were flouted, and the problem was not isolated to one store or one manager—it existed throughout the region. While most grievances have been resolved, some are still in process.

“Just as important as bargaining a contract is the need to enforce it,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “It’s very important not only for our representatives and shop stewards but for every member to know the contract’s terms and be vigilant about making sure they are followed. It’s our members’ activism that won justice in these cases—and sent a message to Kroger that we will hold the company accountable.”

Kroger Shop Steward Wins $250 in Back Pay for Coworker

Kristy Vance, a shop steward at a Kroger store in Blacksburg, poses for a photo with her coworker, Alex Taylor. Alex was awarded $250 in back pay after Kristy reported a manager doing work that should have been assigned to Alex.

For years now, Kristy Vance has seen managers, management trainees and loss prevention staff stocking shelves at her store, Kroger #402 in Blacksburg, Va. This not only violates the Kroger-Roanoke contract, which specifies that only bargaining unit members can stock shelves, but it also reduces the number of hours Local 400 members are scheduled to work. Kristy wasn’t going to tolerate it.

This fall, she took photos and documented 24 hours of management doing shelf-stocking. She sent the photos and evidence to her representative, Mark Collins, and filed a grievance against Kroger. The company could not dispute what happened and Local 400 won a back pay award for part-time associate Alex Taylor. He was the most senior part-timer and had only worked 16 hours during the week in question, so he received a check for $250, covering the extra hours he should have been assigned.

“Alex was grateful, but he said, ‘Wow, I don’t need this,’” Kristy recalled. “He was wanting to give it to someone who was older. That was really admirable of him, but this was his award because management took those hours away from him. And we sent a clear message that we are going to enforce our collective bargaining agreement.

“I’m really pleased we got results because this has been a long time coming,” Kristy said. “Whenever I raised this problem in the past and told them they have to give part-time workers the extra hours they need or pay full-time workers overtime, management would deny that they were stocking. I would take photos and they would claim it wasn’t proof. They kind of laughed us off. Not any more.”

After Kristy filed the grievance, a new manager was appointed for the store. Since then, Kristy has caught a few incidences of management doing bargaining unit work—which she continues to document—but the frequency is down. “We’re having an impact, but we’ve still got to be vigilant,” she said.

For Kristy, fighting back was hard. She had previously worked Kroger #192 in Galax, Va., just a few miles from her home in Fries. But after that store was closed, she was transferred to Blacksburg, 72 miles away. So she spends two and a half-hours each day commuting—or longer, when traffic is bad. As a result, she relies on her Local 400 sisters and brothers to document contract violations when she’s not there, and they played a central role in winning back pay for Alex.

In addition, Kristy and her co-workers spearheaded an arbitration case against Kroger charging the company with using courtesy clerks to perform work that can only be done by food clerks. “We’ve turned in the three violations,” Kristy said, “which would be enough to trigger the ‘three strikes’ clause, promote all courtesy clerks and eliminate the position in our store if we win in arbitration.

“I think all of these actions are showing everyone working in our store that their union is here to fight for them,” Kristy said. “We’re showing them that together we’re stronger, that divided we’re weak, and that if we come together, we can fight corporate America and get what we deserve—our pieces of the pie.”

Work at Kroger? Here’s How to Report Violations

Are managers doing work that should be assigned to a clerk? If you see a manager doing work that should be assigned to a clerk, click here to report the violation or talk to your shop steward.

Are courtesy clerks getting cheated at your store? 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, click here to report the violation and a union representative will follow up with you.

Local 400 Members Ratify New Contract With Zero Cuts

A team of Kroger store associates led negotiations for the new contract on behalf of UFCW Local 400.

New Contract Increases Pay While Maintaining Healthcare & Retirement Benefits

Today, Local 400 members voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new union contract at Kroger.

This contract has absolutely no cuts. We all know it is extremely rare in this day and age to win a contract without losing a single benefit. Even at a time when other retailers are slashing benefits, we didn’t give up a single thing. We successfully preserved our healthcare and retirement benefits while also increasing pay. And it couldn’t have happened without you.

Thank you to every one of you who took the time to join us at a rally, sign a petition, and take action for a fair contract. We cannot overstate how important your participation has been to our efforts. Thanks to all of us sticking together as a union, we successfully fought back against every cut the company proposed.

The new contract takes effect immediately and extends through August 29, 2020. Let’s continue to stand together, let’s continue to build our union, and let’s keep up the fight every day to get what we deserve.

In Solidarity,

The 2017 Kroger West Virginia Bargaining Committee: Wayne, Billy, Tami, Allen, & Victoria

 

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Tentative Agreement Reached

Rallies Planned for Friday, November 3 Are CANCELED

Be There to Vote On Your Next Contract Monday, November 6

Thanks to all of you who took action for a fair contract. We are now prepared to unanimously recommend a new contract proposal that we believe is the best deal possible.

Thanks to this new development, we have CANCELED the rallies planned for Friday, November 3. Together, we took action to make our voices heard – and it worked. Thanks to all of us sticking together as a union, we were able to move the nation’s largest grocery chain to improve their proposal.

We will present the complete details of this latest offer to the entire membership at our contract meetings on Monday, November 6. As a member of Local 400, it is critical that you make every effort to attend one of these meetings to cast your vote on your next contract:

Kroger West Virginia Contract Meetings: Monday, November 6, 2017

9:00 a.m. Charleston Civic Center
200 Civic Center Drive, Charleston, WV 25301
Registration opens at 8:00 a.m.

6:00 p.m. Nathan Goff Armory
5 Armory Rd, Clarksburg, WV 26301
Registration opens at 5:00 p.m.

Don’t forget your entry card! We have mailed out entry cards to all members under the Kroger West Virginia contract. Your entry card entitles you to immediate access to the meeting without signing in. If you did not receive your card in the mail, you simply need to register once you arrive at the meeting.

In Solidarity,

The 2017 Kroger West Virginia Bargaining Committee: Wayne, Billy, Tami, Allen, & 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.

 

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