As you may know, contract negotiations between UFCW Local 455 Kroger members and The Kroger Company began for Houston members on February 11, 2020, and in May 2021 for Shreveport and Lake Charles, Louisiana Kroger members. Local 455 proudly represents 16,000 Kroger workers in 117 stores across the Houston area and parts of Louisiana.
While your bargaining team, made up of your union and fellow Kroger co-workers, continued to meet with Kroger to discuss the better wages and benefits you deserve, Kroger decided to unilaterally implement their wage levels on October 4, 2020 and parts of their so-called “Last Best and Final” Offer on January 1, 2021. This means that they forced certain terms of their offer into effect, without reaching an agreement with your bargaining team and without your vote.
What Kroger’s So-Called “Best & Final” Offer Means for Workers:
- Lower Wage Increase: Kroger’s wage increases are far below your bargaining team’s proposal. Kroger also froze wage levels making it harder for certain workers to advance to the next wage tier.
- Backdoor Pay Cuts for Health Care Participants: Kroger has forced all Houston South Central health & welfare participants into a newly formed, company-controlled K Plan. Under Kroger’s new eligibility requirements, the company predicted approximately 100-200 workers per year over the next 3 years would be kicked off their health insurance. In addition, the Kroger plan increased prescription costs and deductibles. This represents a back-door pay cut as workers must now pay more out of their pocket for healthcare.
- Limited Opportunity: Kroger is proposing to drastically cut full-time positions in several stores, limiting the opportunity for workers to make a better life for their families through hard work.
- Cut Overtime: Kroger has unilaterally changed daily overtime, denying overtime pay to workers who put in the longest hours to cover the store’s busiest shifts.
- Lower Earnings: By eliminating full time jobs, cutting overtime, reducing take home pay through increased healthcare costs, Kroger will significantly reduce workers’ earnings.
- Broad Workplace Cuts and Changes: In addition, Kroger eliminated hero pay during the pandemic; cut vacation weeks from 6 to 3 for part timers hired on or after 1/1/21; and implemented language which could have clerks working meat department jobs and reducing hours for those higher paying positions.
The simple truth is, Kroger’s offer is truly the “Last, Worst and Final Offer.” It needlessly forces drastic, unreasonable, and misleading changes to workers’ wages and benefits that impact not only store quality and customer service, but jobs and our local economy.
To make matters worse, Kroger implemented these changes while workers continued to put themselves and their families at risk, and even as Kroger saw record sales and profits – profiting $2.6 billion in 2020. Instead of reinvesting in its Kroger workers, and our members, Kroger made things worse by increasing stock dividends 17 percent and purchased over $1.3 billion dollars’ worth of stock buybacks in a 12-month period – giving wealth investors a hefty boost for their wallets.
The bottom line is that these changes were made in spite of the fact that you and all our members have made Kroger billions in profit.
Kroger’s cuts and changes not only hurt workers and their families, but have a negative impact on the customers and communities you serve.
What Kroger’s Last Best and Final Offer Means for Customers:
- Longer Lines: With cuts to full-time jobs, check-out lines will be longer.
- Making Customers Do the Work: Cuts to full-time jobs will result in even more “self-checkout” lines where customers do the work.
- Fewer Products on Shelves: Cuts to full-time jobs will mean shelves will not be stocked as fast and may be empty.
- Less Customer Service: With cuts to full-time jobs, customer service across the store will be negatively impacted.
- Loss of Local Friends & Neighbors: Cuts to full-time jobs and benefits will result in higher turnover and the loss of good employees, who are your friends and neighbors, who you rely on for quality customer service.
Holding Kroger Accountable
Your union has filed charges with the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) over Kroger’s forced moves and bad faith bargaining and those charges are still under investigation. Kroger has an obligation to negotiate in good faith and we continue to request to meet with Kroger to discuss the many outstanding items – like wage levels, paid time off, fair hours and scheduling– and all the terms that are required for a full and fair contract. So far, Kroger refuses to negotiate unless we accept terms that have a negative impact on your workplace and quality of life.
What You – And All UFCW Members – Can Do
To ensure that we protect your wages and benefits, your union and your bargaining team are asking members to stand together and join the Street Action Committee to engage our customers and the community about what is at stake for all of us. To help protect what you have earned and deserve, we are asking UFCW members to text the following:
Please Text ‘SAC455’ to Join UFCW Local 455’s Street Action Committee
You and all our UFCW members have earned and deserve a contract that improves your wages, hours, and benefits. As your union, our number one priority is making sure you get a contract that reflects this. Standing together, we can and will change Kroger for the better.
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