Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union employed at Kroger’s price-impact Food 4 Less stores in Southern California were meeting today with Kroger representatives on a new contract.
The union has already voted to authorize a strike and is considering its options, a UFCW spokesman told SN. However, he declined to discuss the timing of any potential action.
In a statement, Food 4 Less said it is committed “to reaching an agreement with the union that is good for associates and allows the company to continue to operate in a very competitive market. The only place to reach an agreement is at the bargaining table. We remain hopeful that the union will have the same commitment to keep our associates working as we go through this process.”
Kroger operates approximately 95 Food 4 Less stores in Southern California. The chain negotiates a contract for its Food 4 Less operation separately from Albertsons, Kroger-owned Ralphs and Safeway-owned Vons.
Those three chains reached agreement on new contracts with the union in mid-May, after which negotiations with Food 4 Less commenced.
In the past, Food 4 Less workers have usually accepted the terms of the master agreement.
However, the union spokesman said Kroger is seeking a contract that guarantees the minimum wage of $9 an hour for new hires, compared with $9.20 an hour at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons.
He also said Kroger wants to expand the duties of Food 4 Less workers in some lower-classifications that are currently performed by higher classifications; and it wants to take a hiatus of several months from making contributions to the health and welfare plan.
“Even during talks on the master agreement, Kroger appeared to be the ones digging their heels in and trying to overreach,” the spokesman said.
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