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New Contract Ratified, But We Must Keep Fighting

Bargaining Update #10

This week, we voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with Kroger. The new contract takes effect immediately and extends for the next four years, through June 6, 2020.

By standing united, we won several improvements over our last contract:

  • Higher starting pay
  • Raises for department heads
  • Raises for full-time and part-time clerks
  • Four personal holidays (one per year)
  • Retiree healthcare extended to June 2017
  • Maintained healthcare benefits

But let’s be clear: it’s not everything we wanted – and it’s far from what we need. Accepting this offer doesn’t mean we’re backing down or that we’re satisfied with Kroger. In fact, you shouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than what you’re worth.

The only way we will get a better contract is to build a stronger union. As your bargaining team, we’re only as strong as our membership in the stores. Anyone that’s been on a bargaining committee will tell you the same thing. When we’re in negotiations, Kroger doesn’t’ give us anything because we made a good argument; we have to take everything we can get from them by demonstrating our power. The only thing Kroger cares about is our ability to threaten their bottom-line: money. Our power as a union is the only thing that Kroger responds to in bargaining.

Just look at what it took to get this contract. When Kroger tried to force us to accept a bad deal, it wasn’t until we all stood together and voted unanimously to authorize a strike that we forced Kroger to do better. We made them take notice and move money at their headquarters in Cincinnati. Kroger knew it could do better, but it took all of us to make them do it. That’s the power of unity. That’s the power of a union. And if we want to force Kroger to make a better offer next time, it will take even more union power to do it.

We don’t have to wait four years to start building power – we can make our jobs better right now. When Kroger violates our rights, we can enforce every letter of our contract right now. We can stand up for each other every single day. We can build alliances with other Kroger workers in Virginia, West Virginia, and across the country so that we are even more powerful.

The truth is, that’s the only way we will win. That’s why it’s so important now more than ever to make sure each and every one of our coworkers is a union member. We have to stick together and we have to stand up for each other if we want our lives to get better.

We were honored to serve as your collective bargaining team. It wasn’t easy to face Kroger negotiators day in and day out for months and be told time and time again that our lives aren’t worth more. We stood strong on every single detail of this contract, but we knew it wasn’t enough. We certainly made several improvements, and even those gains were only possible because all of us stuck together. But we also know it will take even more power to make it better next time.

Together, let’s build the stronger union we need to win. Let’s keep up the fight every day. And in four years, when we are negotiating our next contract, we’ll be even stronger and win even more improvements.

Onward!

Signed,
UFCW Local 400 Bargaining Team

20160402-Kroger-Roanoke-Bargaining-Committee

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20160609-Kroger Roanoke Strike Bargaining Update 11

Our Union – Our Contract – Our Vote on June 8th

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Bargaining Update #10

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Berglund Center/Roanoke Civic Center
710 Williamson Road, Roanoke, VA
Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. | Meeting begins at 10:00 a.m.
*** Please note the new location ***

We know there are a lot of questions about what is in the new offer from Kroger that we are recommending for acceptance at our meeting on June 8th. At this meeting, as with past contracts recommended for acceptance, all of the details will be presented in full, all of your questions will be answered, and you will hear why we are recommending it.

We recognize that this agreement is the best we can achieve. For now. Over the last several years we have grown in numbers and in strength. We demonstrated our power at our last meeting and over the last month as we stood unified and rejected Kroger’s “last best” offer and authorized a strike. In the past, when we were weaker, we may have had to accept that bad offer. This time we forced Kroger to recognize our unity and come back with a better offer.

We are not satisfied with this agreement. It is not enough and it is far from what we deserve for our hard work and what we do every day to serve our customers and make Kroger successful and profitable. Right now we believe we need to remain united, organized, and mobilized to continue to build our strength for the next fight. Our unity this time won us an agreement that contains improvements in all of the areas we fought for. It is a step in the right direction. Our recommendation is that we take these gains and this victory and continue to fight, enforce our contract, and build our union. This is not over.

This is our union, this is our contract, and it will continue to be our fight. Please join us on June 8th so that we can have a full and informed discussion about this proposal and our recommendation. And after the meeting, please continue to stand together with us as we fight to build our union so that we can continue to move closer to winning what we deserve.

Signed,
UFCW Local 400 Bargaining Team

20160402-Kroger-Roanoke-Bargaining-Committee

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Bargaining Update 10

Standing Strong Got Us A Better Deal

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Bargaining Update #9

Last week, we stood strong together and voted unanimously to reject Kroger’s proposal and authorize a strike. We made it clear that we demand better raises, more personal holidays, and better for our retirees. We brought Kroger back to the bargaining table. 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.

Today, we’re pleased to announce the company’s “last best offer” is now better. The bargaining committee voted unanimously to recommend a YES vote to our entire membership on a new, improved contract proposal.

We will present the complete details of this latest offer to our entire membership at our next contract meeting on June 8. As a member of Local 400, it is critical that you make every effort to attend this meeting. Put in for the day off now and if you get rejected, contact your union rep immediately.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Berglund Center/Roanoke Civic Center

710 Williamson Road, Roanoke, VA
Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. | Meeting begins at 10:00 a.m.

*** Please note the new location ***

To be clear, while we made definite progress, we did not get everything we want. For the last several months, we’ve sat across the table from Kroger executives who made us many different offers, and the truth is, not one of them was as strong as the one we have to present to you now.

Given this clear improvement, we feel we have made progress. We unanimously recommend you vote YES to accept this proposal at our upcoming membership meeting.

Thanks to all of you, Kroger’s “last best offer” wasn’t the last or the best offer we have to present to you for a vote.

Together, we made this happen.

Signed,
UFCW Local 400 Bargaining Team

20160402-Kroger-Roanoke-Bargaining-Committee

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UPDATE: Strike Authorization Passes, Negotiations With Kroger Resume May 23

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Bargaining Update #8

Updated 1:00 p.m., May 18, 2016

On Wednesday, May 18, at our mass meeting in Salem, our members voted unanimously to reject Kroger’s “last best offer” and authorize a strike at 41 stores in the region.

Kroger’s latest proposal would have provided only slight wage increases and no paid sick days for store associates. It also fell short of renewing the company’s commitment to providing health insurance for its retirees.

By rejecting this insulting offer and voting to authorize a strike, we sent a strong, clear message to Kroger: we demand a fair deal and we are willing to fight for it.

And it worked. Shortly after voting to authorize a strike, Kroger reopened negotiations with us. The full bargaining team will resume negotiations on Monday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 24.

The vote to authorize a strike does not mean we are on strike immediately. It sends a clear message to Kroger that we are willing to do whatever it takes to get a fair deal.

While Kroger offered us only quarters and dimes over the next four years, the company gave CEO Rodney McMullen a 17% raise to $11.2 million a year. He now makes $5,366.55 per hour, or $89.44 per minute.

This is a slap in the face to all of us who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this company. If millionaires in the corporate office deserve raises, then so do we. After all, our hard work is what makes this company a success in the first place.

The only way we will win a fair contract is if we continue to stand together and prove to Kroger that we’re willing to fight.

Together, we can do this!

Signed,
UFCW Local 400 Bargaining Team

20160402-Kroger-Roanoke-Bargaining-Committee

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20160518-Kroger Roanoke Strike Bargaining Update 8_Page_1

 

 

Photos: Standing Strong for a Fair Deal at Kroger

Why are we demanding a fair deal at Kroger? These photos say it all.

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Employees at 41 Kroger Stores in the Region May Vote to Authorize a Strike This Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 16, 2016

CONTACT
Jonathan Williams, UFCW Local 400, jwilliams@local400.org

WHAT:

On Wednesday, May 18, at a meeting in Salem, union members who work at 41 Kroger stores in the region will vote on whether to accept or reject a collective bargaining agreement the company describes as their “last best offer.” If the offer is rejected by the membership, a second vote will be taken to decide whether or not to authorize a strike.

The last-minute proposal was presented by Kroger shortly before the current contract expired at midnight on Sunday, May 8 and provided only slight wage increases and no paid sick days for store associates.

WHEN:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Registration opens at 9:00 a.m.
Meeting begins at 10:00 a.m.

Press are welcome to attend before and after the meeting, but not during the proceedings. A room will be provided at the Civic Center for credentialed members of the media.

WHERE:

Salem Civic Center, 1001 Roanoke Blvd, Salem, VA
WHO:

Kroger union members

Local elected officials

WHY:

Thousands of Kroger associates in the Roanoke Valley have been working under an extended contract since midnight on Sunday, May 8, after the grocery giant presented a last-minute proposal that would have provided only slight wage increases and no paid sick days for store associates. The proposal would also fall short of renewing Kroger’s commitment to providing health insurance for its retirees.

A team of thirteen Kroger employees who make up the union’s bargaining team in contract negotiations with the company voted unanimously to reject the offer. The proposal will now be voted on by the entire union membership.

Rick Howell, a member of the bargaining team who works at a store in Roanoke, underscored the seriousness of the committee’s decision:

“No member of this committee takes this lightly, but the general feeling was this: Kroger simply does not demonstrate that it wants to pay its workers decently, that it wants to provide such common amenities as sick days and personal days, or that it wants to provide retiree health benefits. This company is awash in profits…and it still acts as though its money is tight, and that it just can’t ‘afford’ to do any better for its workers. Committee members felt that it was time to send Kroger a strong message: we’ve helped you be successful; now reward us decently and let us share in your success.”

Kroger is the largest traditional grocer in the United States and made a record-breaking $2.4 billion in profits last year alone. The company spent that same amount in cash to purchase Harris Teeter in 2013. Despite its skyrocketing success, Kroger has refused to provide its associates with paid sick days, and is proposing to force all retired employees off of the company-provided healthcare and onto “Obamacare” exchanges funded by taxpayers.

On Wednesday, May 18, at a meeting in Salem, union members will vote on whether to accept or reject the company’s last best offer. If the offer is rejected by the membership, a second vote will be taken to decide whether or not to authorize a strike.

“We’re hopeful that Kroger will come to its senses and resume negotiations with us,” said Dawn Greenway, a member of the union’s bargaining team who has worked at Kroger for more than 26 years.

The contract covers 41 Kroger stores in the region stretching from Kingsport, TN to Harrisonburg, VA. Approximately 3,000 of the affected associates are union members with Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW).

Kroger Stores Covered Under Contract:

Kroger #118, Clifton Forge, VA

Kroger #202, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #208, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #209, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #210, Blacksburg, VA

Kroger #215, Radford, VA

Kroger #226, Salem, VA

Kroger #228, Waynesboro, VA

Kroger #239, Charlottesville, VA

Kroger #255, Abingdon, VA

Kroger #261, Johnson City, TN

Kroger #273, Bluewell, WV

Kroger #310, Harrisonburg, VA

Kroger #316, Princeton, WV

Kroger #320, Salem, VA

Kroger #322, Vinton, VA

Kroger #325, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #326, Lynchburg, VA

Kroger #327, Lynchburg, VA

Kroger #328, Kingsport, TN

Kroger #330, Salem, VA

Kroger #334, Charlottesville, VA

Kroger #335, Bristol, VA

Kroger #343, Staunton, VA

Kroger #345, Christiansburg, VA

Kroger #347, Rocky Mountain, VA

Kroger #350, Martinsville, VA

Kroger #359, Charlottesville, VA

Kroger #364, Daleville, VA

Kroger #367, Johnson City, TN

Kroger #375, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #377, Forest, VA

Kroger #391, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #399, Hardy, VA

Kroger #400, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #401, Roanoke, VA

Kroger #402, Blacksburg, VA

Kroger #403, Waynesboro, VA

Kroger #404, Lexington, VA

Kroger #406, Appomatox, VA

Kroger #408, Lynchburg, VA

###

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 represents 35,000 members working in the retail food, health care, retail department store, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Kroger’s Top Executives Get Millions While Workers Get Quarters

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This week, Rodney McMullen, the CEO of Kroger, was rewarded a 17 percent pay raise by the company’s board of directors. His total compensation jumped from $9.2 million to a staggering $11.2 million. Assuming he works an average number of hours per year, which the federal Office of Personnel Management estimates to be 2,087, McMullen now makes $5,366.55 per hour, or $89.44 per minute.

As reported in the Cincinnati Business Journal, “the board pays long-term incentives to executives based on the company’s results in its Customer 1st strategy, employee engagement, cutting costs and generating strong returns on invested capital.” While Kroger’s board provides such long-term incentives to a handful of top executives, the company makes no such offer to the associates who actually work in Kroger stores.

In the Roanoke Valley region, where 41 stores stretching from Kingsport, TN to Harrisonburg, VA are represented by UFCW Local 400, the company’s “last best offer” included only a 25 cent raise for full-time associates. The proposal also provided no paid sick days and would fall short of renewing Kroger’s commitment to providing health insurance for its retirees.

Store managers have been instructed to describe this as a “fair offer” to associates.

A team of thirteen Kroger employees who make up the union’s bargaining team in contract negotiations with the company voted unanimously to reject the company’s offer. The proposal will now be voted on by the entire union membership at a meeting on Wednesday, May 18.

McMullen wasn’t the only corporate executive who saw their total compensation jump from millions to even more millions. Four other top executives saw pay raises, according to the Cincinnati Business Journal:

“J. Michael Schlotman, executive vice president and CFO – $5.9 million total compensation (Salary, $793,825);

“Michael J. Donnelly, executive vice president of merchandising- $4.9 million total compensation (Salary, $700,684);

“Christopher T. Hjelm, executive vice president and CIO – $4.8 million total compensation (Salary, $653,368); and

“Frederick J. Morganthall II, executive vice president of retail operations – $4.3 million total compensation (Salary, $619,944).”

On Wednesday, May 18, at a meeting in Salem, union members will vote on whether to accept or reject the company’s last best offer. If the offer is rejected by the membership, a second vote will be taken to decide whether or not to authorize a strike.

“We’re hopeful that Kroger will come to its senses and resume negotiations with us,” said Dawn Greenway, a member of the union’s bargaining team who has worked at Kroger for more than 26 years.

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Media Attention Increasing Pressure on Kroger to Negotiate a Fair Deal

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The possibility of a strike authorization vote on Wednesday has drawn media attention and increased the pressure on Kroger to return to the bargaining table. Earlier this week, shortly after several TV stations aired interviews with members of the union bargaining team, the company agreed to extend the current contract through June 4.

Even as Kroger held a widely publicized job fair at stores throughout the country over the weekend, the possibility of a strike at 41 stores stretching from Kingsport, TN to Harrisonburg, VA has kept the local news spotlight on the company’s treatment of current employees.

Below is a selection of news coverage so far, including several interviews and quotes from members of Local 400’s bargaining team made up of 13 Kroger associates from throughout the region:

Kroger union employees working without a contract
5/11/16
WDBJ7
http://www.wdbj7.com/content/news/Kroger-union-employees-working-without-a-contract-379055981.html

Local Kroger stores could face a strike
5/12/16
Newsplex
http://www.newsplex.com/content/news/Local-Kroger-stores-could-face-a-strike-379270561.html

Local Kroger stores may vote to go on strike
5/12/16
WHSV
http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Local-Kroger–379285101.html

Charlottesville, Albemarle Co. Kroger Employees May Strike
5/13/16
WVIR NBC29
http://www.nbc29.com/story/31969061/charlottesville-albemarle-co-kroger-employees-may-strike

Grocery Strike Pending
5/13/16
WRVA Newsradio 1140
http://1140wrva.iheart.com/articles/local-news-128979/grocery-strike-pending-14709816/

Kroger employees say strike is possible
5/13/16
WVNS 59News
http://www.wearewvproud.com/story/31968300/kroger-employees-say-strike-is-possible

Kroger workers might go on strike
5/13/16
The Daily Progress
http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/kroger-workers-might-go-on-strike/article_5b67b4fc-804f-5d95-ab68-df04be18e15a.html

Local Kroger associates may go on strike next week
5/13/16
Bristol Herald Courier
http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/local-kroger-associates-may-go-on-strike-next-week/article_3124a930-18bc-11e6-8ba7-37ed57fc857e.html

Kroger Employees Consider Going on Strike
5/13/16
WOAY ABC TV50
http://woay.com/News.aspx?nid=25303

Local Kroger workers may go on strike
5/13/16
WCYB News 5
http://www.wcyb.com/news/local-kroger-workers-may-go-on-strike/39535254

Union organizers deliver federal charges to several Kroger managers
5/14/16
WHSV
http://www.whsv.com/content/news/Union-organizers-deliver-federal-charges-to-several-Kroger-managers-379538241.html

Amid Public Pressure, Kroger Agrees to Extend Contract Through June 4

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Kroger Bargaining Update #7

Since midnight on Sunday, May 8, we have been working without a contract. Today, the company formally agreed to extend the current contract through Saturday, June 4.

This means that all of the protections and benefits guaranteed in our collective bargaining agreement remain in effect until that date.

The agreement came shortly after news outlets in several cities interviewed members of the bargaining committee about the “last best” offer Kroger presented late on Saturday, May 7 and after days of us talking to customers about Kroger’s greed. 

We will continue to put the pressure on Kroger to come back to the table and present us with a fair deal. As news broke yesterday that their CEO got a 17% raise last year to a total compensation package of $11.2 million, it is an insult to those of us who work hard every day to make them successful that they are only offering us quarters and twenty cents. 

We need everyone to do whatever it takes to be at the contract meeting, Wednesday, May 18 at 10am at the Salem Civic Center, 1001 Roanoke Blvd, Salem, VA and vote to reject Kroger’s greedy offer and yes to authorize a strike. This is the only way we will be able to win a fair contract. We will see you there on Wednesday morning.

In Solidarity,

UFCW Local 400 Bargaining Team

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Never Miss An Update

Now, more than ever, we need to stick together and make sure everyone has the latest information. We’re committed to getting a better deal and keeping you informed every step of the way. There are lots of ways to stay in the loop. Don’t get left out of the conversation! 

Sign Up For Text Alerts

Text KROGER400 to 698329 to receive updates on your phone! (Message & data rates may apply).

Call Your Union Rep

Call us toll-free 1-800-638-0800 to speak with your union rep. Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Mark Collins, ext. 227

Philip Frisina, ext. 205

Steve Meador, ext. 221

Talk to Your Shop Steward

Your shop steward is there to help! If you have questions about your current contract or bargaining the next one, they can help. If they can’t, they’ll know who can!

On the Web

All information on bargaining is posted to our website at ufcw400.org/kroger2016

You can also like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @UFCW400.

After Calling Police on Union Members, Kroger Now Faces Charges for Violating Federal Law

Three shoppers at a store in Hardy, Virginia sign cards in support of Kroger associates to give to the manager.

Three shoppers at a store in Hardy, Virginia sign cards in support of Kroger associates to give to the manager.

On Tuesday, Kroger employees and Local 400 staff talked to customers at several stores in the Roanoke region about the company’s awful proposal to offer only slight raises to employees over the next four years, provide no paid sick days, and cut off healthcare for retired workers.

Many customers were shocked to learn that even though Kroger made a record-breaking $2.4 billion in profits last year alone, the company has refused to share the wealth with its own employees. Several shoppers signed cards to store managers saying these workers “deserve to share in the success they have helped to build.”

Unbelievably, managers at several stores threatened the workers for talking to customers. At a few stores, they even called the police. Even though it was clear that no laws were being violated, Kroger apparently thought it could scare away its own employees and cover up the truth about the company’s latest contract proposal.

Of course, it didn’t work.

No one was arrested when the police arrived. In fact, after one union rep explained that union members have a right to leaflet customers at their own stores, the police left immediately and encouraged the workers to keep up the good work.

Ironically, it was in fact the actions of these Kroger store managers that were a clear violation of the law.

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

Kroger is the most successful traditional grocery chain in the country, with billions of dollars in profits, yet it believes it can intimidate and silence the very people who make that success possible – its own workers. Now, faced with charges of violating federal labor law, the company will have to think twice about violating workers’ rights.