By Bobby Bordelon
Negotiations between Kroger and the Local 400 chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union have finally come to an end. Local 400 members voted to approve a new worker contract that affects over 4,200 Kroger employees across 39 Kroger stores in West Virginia and the surrounding areas.
When considering a contract offer from Kroger that was heavily criticized by the UFCW for “significant changes” to “health care benefits that will negatively impact … coverage” for the workers, the union voted against the first contract and allowed union leaders to call a strike. After negotiations resumed, a new deal was reached, which has now been approved by union members.
“While no contract is perfect, this agreement is a significant improvement from the last offer that we resoundingly rejected,” reads the Local 400 press release. “By standing together, we were able to preserve our health care funding for the life of the contract and make other improvements that resulted in a fair deal.”
In a press release, Kroger also expressed satisfaction with the approved contract.
“Kroger is pleased our associates have ratified the contract and recognized our continued investment in their success,” said Paula Ginnett, president of the Kroger Mid-Atlantic division. “This contract provides wage increases for every associate while keeping associate weekly contributions for health care benefits the same through 2021. This is an affirmation of our commitment to providing a competitive total benefits package for our associates. I appreciate our associates for supporting this agreement and for the excellent service they provide our customers every day.”
Kroger celebrated the agreement that “will increase wages and ensure access to affordable comprehensive health care coverage,” including “a more than $20 million wage investment and nearly $100 million investment that maintains exceptional health care benefits.”
Local 400 also celebrated the new contract additions coming from the renewed negotiations, including:
- Health care funding that experts say will fully fund our health care for the life of the contract
- Real raises for everyone
- Premiums for ALL department heads
- No increase to prescription drug costs maximums + a new diabetes program to reduce drug costs
- New hours eligibility measurement period doesn’t start until after ratification
- All raises retroactive to November 1, 2020