On the night of 9/9/2020 the company notified the union via phone call, and released a statement on their landing page, that they are going to unilaterally implement their wages and healthcare offer. On the morning of 9/17/2020, the company notified the union via phone call, and released a statement on their landing page, that they are going to unilaterally implement several more items from their “Last, Best, & Final” offer.
We want to be clear. We DO NOT recommend Kroger’s “Last, Best, & Final” offer. Instead of trying to sell you a bad deal, they are now forcing one on you.
What Does Kroger’s Unilateral Implementation Mean?
Your bargaining committee, made up of Kroger workers who work alongside you in the stores, has said NO to Kroger’s offer multiple times. But instead of listening to workers, Kroger is trying to spin and force their one-sided offer to you. Kroger is ignoring your bargaining committee’s voice at the table, implementing their final offer without your approval, and forcing you into a bad healthcare plan that removes all of your voice and control.
Kroger’s unilateral implementation bypasses the bargaining process and is illegal. We have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), asking the NLRB to halt your enrollment into the company-controlled K-Plan. These charges will not affect your wages.
What Does Impasse Mean?
Kroger claims that bargaining is at an impasse, meaning that both sides are deadlocked in negotiations. To be clear, your union absolutely wants to continue bargaining because we believe there is further room for compromise, and we are not deadlocked.
Why is Kroger Changing my HealthCare in the Middle of a Pandemic?
Kroger is implementing their company-controlled K-Plan, a non-existent plan with no history or experience, by encouraging all current South Central participants into enrolling in their plan. But the K-Plan does not have an overall umbrella plan of 70,000 to 100,000 participants in which to include Houston employees, as we were previously told. You will be by yourselves in a company-controlled, brand-new, healthcare plan with no say in your costs or benefits.
Kroger’s communication sheet says their proposed “health care benefits are guaranteed through the life of the contract,” but that is not what their contract offer states.
Kroger is not being transparent about the union’s position on healthcare. We would like to remain in the South Central Trust Fund that we have had for over 40 years, because it gives the employees a seat at the table, instead of turning over all of the decisions to the company. However, we are open to consider other Trust Funds and plans that will be best for you. You will be getting open enrollment information form South Central and from the company. You should NOT discard anything. We will update you as this matter develops. In the meantime, enroll in South Central for 2021.
What Does This Mean for My Wages?
Kroger is implementing frozen wage levels that will lock you in and prevent you from progressing to the top rate. Furthermore, they are implementing far less wages than the Union proposed $2 an hour hazard pay. These frozen levels are a way for the company to save money, even after their profits have soared.
Other Open Contract Items
In addition to wages and healthcare, there are many other areas in which Kroger has refused to negotiate in good faith, or in some cases, has not even made an attempt to offer a counter proposal. Last week, Kroger announced more unilateral implementations from their last proposal, some of which we are challenging at the NLRB. Listed below are just some of the items still open for discussion and bargaining:
- Reduction in store full-time ratio in volumes 1 & 2
- Reduction in daily over-time
- Clerk and Meat workers working in each other’s respective departments
- Reduction in new hires part-time vacation weeks
- Weakening the grievance procedure by allowing the District Manager to appoint a division designee
- Previous experience
- Only allowing select leads to get an increased premium while others do not
- Merging Fuel Clerks into wage levels instead of part-time and full-time progression scales
- Eliminating assistant department head volume-based premiums and offering minuscule increases
- Eliminating Floral lead volume-based premiums and offering minuscule increases
- Eliminating jurisdiction letters of agreement
ALL OF YOU have been on the front lines, working hard in the midst of a pandemic for Kroger. Because of this, Kroger has made record profits, but wants to eliminate or reduce the rights and benefits you have earned and worked hard for. After all the sacrifice, risk, hard work and the profound amount of money that you made for this company, the company decides to implement bad wages, worse healthcare, and other items, all without your voice. Your union remains ready and willing to negotiate in good faith a fair contract for you and your coworkers.
Remember bargaining has not concluded; you have not voted to approve a new contract or the companies proposed “K-Plan”. Until that happens, the status quo remains, and that means your healthcare should remain the same until you approve the changes. 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.
We URGE all participants to enroll in the South Central Plan during the open enrollment window from October 15 – December 15 at www.bams.bz
CALL KROGER AT 713-507-4800 AND TELL YOUR STORE MANAGER:
RECONSIDER YOUR POSITION AND SET MORE BARGAINING DATES, SO WE CAN WORK TOWARDS A CONTRACT THAT IS RECOMMENDED AND APPROVED BY WORKERS.
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