CINCINNATI -- Supermarket workers last week agreed to a new, three-year labor contract with Kroger in its headquarters market here that calls for employees to begin contributing to their health care coverage.
her retailers and our associates' jobs more secure."
Specific details of the pact were not disclosed, although Rhodes said it included wage increases and bonuses.
"It also includes, for the first time, weekly contributions toward their health care premiums, beginning Jan. 1, 2005," he said, noting that employees would pay between $5 and $15 per week for coverage. "Even with those modest contributions, our associates will receive a far better health care plan -- at a much lower cost -- than any other retailer in the region."
The union said that 68% of its members voted in favor of the pact, although a statement on the union's Web site said they did so reluctantly.
"Kroger should not kid itself about the results of today's vote," Lennie Wyatt, president, UFCW Local 1099, was quoted as saying on the site. "This contract was ratified for one reason and one reason only -- there simply was no workable alternative at this time. Kroger workers are angry at the changes the company insisted on."
The contract covers about 8,500 employees at 70 stores. The previous contract had expired Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, negotiations between Kroger-owned King Soopers, Albertsons and Safeway and UFCW Local 7 hit some snags last week as the chains penned a revenue-sharing agreement in the event of a strike and called for the current contract extension to expire this Wednesday.