GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. -- Kroger-owned King Soopers and union negotiators met at the bargaining table again Thursday. But a United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union bulletin said negotiations failed after the company walked out. The next bargaining session will be held Saturday morning.
Both sides say they want to reach agreement on a contract and avoid a strike. So far, that is proving to be difficult.
On it's recorded Negotiation Hotline, Local 7 called the company's offer on Monday "reprehensible."
The recording said the offer "gave a 15 cent or 25 cent an hour raise to only top paid journeymen workers and those like head clerks, but no raise at all for anyone else, which means half of the company's workers would get no raise at all."
In response to a question about the union's claim, company spokesman Adam Williamson sent a statement to Denver7 which said in part:
"To look at associates pay you must look at the full compensation snapshot which includes pay, health care coverage, retirement, pension and more.
What I would leave you with is this, since we opened our first store in 1947 our focus has been to create a culture where our associates love to work and our customers love to shop. We remain committed to these same principles with a fair and balanced contract."
Regarding a possible strike, Williamson said, "For nearly a quarter of a century our associates and communities haven’t had to experience disruption because we all came together to work on a fair and balanced contract. No one wins in a strike. It is in everyone’s best interest to come to a mutually beneficial agreement that rewards associates with fair pay, best in class benefits and a stable pension plan while keeping King Soopers/City Market competitive in the market."
The last strike against King Soopers and City Market happened in 1996. Customers are hoping there won't be a repeat.
"I would hope that workers wouldn't strike," said Linda Baumann, while loading her car with groceries at the new King Soopers, just west of the Outlet Mall, in Castle Rock. "We'd be forced to drive to Lone Tree or Monument."
Another customer, who declined to give her name, said union members have good jobs and shouldn't strike.
"It would be unfortunate," she said. "They shouldn't inconvenience customers. So, let's operate as adults and if you don't like your job, then quit, but don't harm everyone else."
Grocery workers, like many other workers in Colorado, say pay isn't keeping up with escalating living costs.
The company has 117 King Soopers and 35 City Market stores with 23,000 employees in the state. The union represents about 12,200 workers.
Thursday was the ninth day of negotiations. Both sides will be back at the table for a 10th day Saturday morning at the Denver Marriott Tech Center.