Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Your Healthcare
Why is Kroger saying we won’t have our current South Central healthcare come January 1st?
Kroger telling you that you won’t have your South Central healthcare starting 1/1/2021 is nothing but a scare tactic. Nothing has been finalized in your contract or by your healthcare trust fund board. We are still negotiating with Kroger on solutions and until you vote, the status quo should remain. And the status quo is South Central.
Kroger is trying to bully workers into thinking they only have one option – their option – and that is simply not true. We still have proposals going back and forth at the table and are currently negotiating over a proposal to potentially make your South Central fund stronger. Nothing is finalized and you shouldn’t be forced to make a choice when you don’t have all of the information.
What Kroger is trying to force onto you is new, unvetted, and a bully tactic so that they can contribute less to your healthcare and pass more costs onto you, in the future. Almost all of our other UFCW Local Unions, that represent Kroger workers throughout the country, operate with the same type of healthcare fund that you have now.
What happened to all the money in South Central? If Kroger doesn’t contribute to the fund, wont it have to dismantle?
Your South Central fund includes not only Houston Kroger workers, but also Kroger workers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and other parts of Texas. All of those other workers are enrolling in South Central. Nothing has changed. Money is still going into your South Central fund and it is still operational.
What about the K-Plan?
Kroger’s “K-plan” is a power grab to gain control of your South Central Trust Fund, which is currently run by a board of trustees that includes your union representatives. Under the “K Plan,” your health care will no longer be decided by a labor-management partnership, known as the “Trust,” but will be completely controlled by Kroger.
Additional Key Failings of Kroger’s K Plan:
- Kroger’s K Plan has increased costs for you – your deductibles; doctor, emergency room and urgent care visits; prescriptions; and other out of pocket expenses will increase at a rate that you have no control over.
- Under Kroger’s K Plan they will decide how much to contribute to the cost of your healthcare. You could be paying more, while they could contribute less.
- You will have no voice in the type of coverage or the cost of coverage under a company-controlled healthcare plan.
What is happening with contract negotiations?
Negotiations have not concluded. We are still meeting with Kroger. And until you vote to approve a new contract or the company’s proposed K-Plan, the status quo should remain. And that means your healthcare is the same.
All other South Central participants in Louisiana, Local 2008 (Little Rock, AR), and Local 540 (Dallas, TX) will ALL be enrolling in the Fund. The South Central Fund is still open for business, as a working fund with money going into it.
Why can’t we vote on healthcare?
Your Bargaining Committee prefers to have a fully recommend complete offer before it gets presented to the entire membership for a ratification vote, and so far, your committee unanimously rejected the offer one-by-one, because it fails to fully compensate you, and it turns over full control of your healthcare decisions and benefits to the company; your Bargaining Committee prefers to maintain health benefits in a employee-controlled Trust Fund.
What is the difference between the current South-Central health care fund and the company’s proposed K-plan?
The biggest difference between the current South Central health care fund and the health care plan the company is proposing is that under the company’s plan, they will have complete control of the fund and how benefits are distributed, and it will be a much smaller plan with just Houston area employees.
Right now, any decisions made about your health care are determined by a board of trustees from both your union and the company, so that there is a fair balance when it comes to making changes that impact your health care. With the company’s K-Plan, they will have direct and sole control to make any cuts in benefits or increases in costs.
Why is the company not willing to improve the current health care plan funding?
Kroger has seen a surge in profits this year, with the pandemic bringing in $1.2 billion MORE than they anticipated for the quarter. Kroger has also spent $422 million on stock share buybacks and paid shareholders $258 million in dividends over the past 6 months.
This hardly seems like a time when there should be concerns about a funding shortage, especially when it comes to something as critical as health care during a national and global health crisis like COVID -19.
Kroger could easily afford higher company contribution rates that reflect the hours you have worked during this crisis, making sure stores stay open and our communities and customers are served.
The hard work and sacrifices you are making by showing up to work every day during a pandemic deserves to be rewarded, you have earned and deserve affordable health care and there is no reason the company cannot help with that.
Simply put, they can improve your current fund, but they would rather find ways to push costs onto you in order to keep more profit and control for them.
What happens to all the current Trust Fund’s reserves if everything gets switched over to a company-controlled plan?
The company wants to deplete the Trust Fund’s reserves by stopping company contributions before the end of this year. Under the company’s proposed plan, the reserves would be used for 2020 run-out claims and the other participants in the Trust Fund. Currently, Kroger pays a contribution based on an hourly rate that goes into the current Trust Fund and we need an amount to keep reserves healthy, in the event of any unexpected changes.