As we reported last week that there’s conflict about Kroger workers and UFCW regarding the contract. Now, about 3,000 grocery workers hired by Kroger in Arkansas for nearly a year went without a new contract amid ongoing contract negotiations between Kroger and United Food and Commercial Workers
Negotiations began in May 2020 for a new contract covering workers at 29 stores. Kroger is Arkansas’ only trade union grocery chain. The company offered to “invest” $ 27 million in wage increases and half-time pay after 8.5 hours a day.
To offset this cost, the company seeks to convert its workers from a corporate-union mutual benefit fund to an insurance plan managed by the company. While, Steve Gillius, UFCW Domestic President of 2008, said the new contract is a ready-made plan, claiming, “I’ve never seen a company behave like this before. We just want a fair contract.” He continued: “They are trying to stick to this contract that these people have fought for, for 30, 40, 50 years. We will not let that happen.” But he concluded, revealing more than he intended, “We do not seek the moon.”
Further they said that we believe our proposition is fair, and we are ready to work with Local 2008 to make sure our partners are well taken care of,” said Teresa Dickerson, Corporate Affairs Director. Kroger, the world’s fifth largest retailer and the fourth largest employer in the United States, employs more than 453,000 workers in its 3,000 stores across the country, generating $ 121 billion in profits annually. She can easily pay decent wages and benefits to her Arkansas workers, who average only $ 11.60 an hour. Under the proposed company’s plan, Gelius said, qualifying for the benefits would require more hours per week. Currently, workers only need 20 hours per week to qualify, but under the company’s proposal, workers will be required to work 27 hours per week, 36 hours per week for employees who have family members on the plan, over a period of 52 weeks. This would effectively exclude any worker who missed 10 days or more that year – forcing workers to take time off and work virtually without stopping for cheap wages and minimal benefits.
When the last decade’s bid was put to the vote, more than 92 percent of workers turned it down. But the NFL is still refusing to call a strike, with Gelius saying, “We are ready for that. I’ve got strike permission and strike penalty from our country. We have timetables ready to go.” However, no action was taken, with both Kroger and the UFCW agreeing that “no one wins on strike”. Instead, the NFL has been, for nearly a year, blocking a potential blow. Meanwhile, Kroger is preparing for a possible strike by hiring replacement workers, or scabs, for $ 14 an hour.
Gelius, whose gross salary is $ 128,445, according to the Department of Labor, earns more than four times the average annual income of a Kroger worker. He is well paid for his attempts to avoid any and all strikes, despite having “strike permission”, “strike penalty from [UFCW] International” and “picket schedules ready to go.” The UFCW plays an important role in suppressing opposition among meat packing workers. After a wild strike broke out at the JBS meat processing facility in Greeley, Colorado last year, UFCW Local 7 demonstrated its disavowal by announcing the strike had violated the terms of the contract.
Among the grocery workers, nearly 400 workers at the Kroger warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee, left their jobs in March 2020 to protest grueling 96-hour work shifts per week and unsafe working conditions as the coronavirus spreads in the state. Tennessee now has more than 829,000 cases and 12,055 deaths. However, the NFL ended this protest. Now, we hope that it turns out good for all employee. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below!