Union rejects Kroger’s contract offer at 38 stores in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Union workers at 38 Kroger stores in West Virginia and two other states have voted to reject the grocery chain’s contract proposal and give their bargaining committee the authority to call a strike.

A Kroger store is shown in Cross Lanes, W.Va
A Kroger store is shown Friday, March 1, 2024, in Cross Lanes, W.Va. A union representing 3,000 workers in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky has voted to reject a contract offer from the company and to authorize a strike if necessary. [John Raby | AP]
Members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 Union voted 1,375 to 214 against the three-year contract offer and 1,347 to 229 to authorize a strike. Workers will remain on the job unless the bargaining committee tells them to walk out, the union said in a statement Friday.
A contract involving about 3,000 workers at 32 Kroger stores throughout West Virginia, four in southern Ohio and two in Ashland, Kentucky, expired Feb. 24.”This vote has sent a powerful message to Kroger that they must do better if they expect us to ratify a contract,” the union said.

Later Friday, the union said it agreed to resume negotiations and that “we are hopeful that Kroger is prepared to negotiate an agreement we can recommend for ratification.”

Union spokesperson Jonathan Williams said in a telephone interview that the proposed pay raises in the earlier offer fell well short of keeping up with inflation. The offer also had unacceptable potential increases in health-care costs during the life of the contract, Williams said.

Lori Raya, president of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division, said in a statement Friday that the contract offer “would put more money in every associate’s paycheck and preserve high-quality healthcare at 72% less than the average healthcare expense for West Virginia families. We remain dedicated to finding common ground and extend an open invitation to UFCW Local 400 for further dialogue.”