DENVER — The City and County of Denver District Court has agreed to partially grant a request from King Soopers for a temporary restraining order against people striking.
The picketers have allegedly tried to stop customers and associates from entering stores, made offensive comments and used profanity, thrown a picket sign towards someone, followed a customer from the store and left nails by an associate’s vehicle, documents say.
The court said it knows any kind injunction will impact the public interest of peaceful labor protests, but agreed to partially grant the request for a temporary restraining order against picketers “to preserve the rights of customers, employees and vendors at various King Soopers to participate in their employment and their ability to shop for necessities without fear of violence to their physical safety.”
Even with the injunction, the court said union members and supporters will still be able to picket.
The TRO limits the number of picketers to no more than 10 people per location, and they will not be allowed to hinder the ability for people or vendors to enter stores, threaten or physically obstruct anyone or follow them from the store, among other requirements.
In a statement, King Soopers said it supports associates’ right to picket, but said the actions of some picketers are affecting the rights of their associates and customers.
“At several locations picketers are engaging in unlawful activity including threatening, blocking and intimidating both associates and customers who have chosen to cross the picket line. Additionally, there have been instances where picketers are blocking trucks from delivering to our stores,” a statement from King Soopers says. “These activities are not peaceful and, frankly, are unsafe. The safety of our associates, customers, and communities will always come first and this temporary restraining order is a reflection of that commitment.”
Kim Cordova, the president of UFCW Local 7, called the allegations “unfounded” and called on supporters to remain “strong and resolute on the picket line.”
“This company refuses to bargain. They want to stop our freedom of speech and curtail even more of the workers’ rights. We will not stand for that,” Cordova said. “We remain focused on our fight to give King Soopers/Kroger workers the industry-leading contract that they deserve.”
After four days of negotiations, Cordova said they’ve made little to no progress.
King Soopers said it’s committed to providing a wage increase for employees, but that the union’s requests are “unrealistic.”
On Wednesday, following the judge’s order, UFCW Local 7 issued a list of “do’s and don’ts” for union members who are picketing. It advised workers not to impede anyone trying to enter or exit the store or parking lot and to keep numbers to 10 or fewer on King Soopers property.
It also advised not to post flyer, banners or signs on or around the King Soopers premises.
“Do NOT let the company win! They want to paint you as lazy and obnoxious rabblerousers, but you are not. Prove the company wrong,” the union said.
UFCW Local 7 and King Soopers were set to continue negotiations at 10 a.m. Tuesday. No updates have been provided regarding the ongoing discussions.
If necessary, a hearing on King Soopers’ motion for preliminary injunction will be held on Jan. 28 at 9 a.m.