Dear UFCW Lake Charles Kroger members,
Your union bargaining committee met with Kroger on 9/17 (Lake Charles Meat) and on 10/12 (Lake Charles Clerks) to discuss their “Last, Best, and Final” (LBF) offer on the record.
As you may recall, on 9/17, Kroger gave their so-called “Last, Best, and Final” offer, off the record, for Lake Charles clerks and before explaining any of their offer to the clerks bargaining committee or allowing your committee to review the offer, Kroger posted it in the stores.
On 10/19 the company announced they are implementing portions of their so called “Last, Best, & Final” offer including wages on 10/31 and their company-administered health plan on 1/1/2022. Your union is not in agreement with Kroger’s decision to unilaterally and illegally implement their LBF offer and we have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) at the federal government.
You deserve a contract that your union bargaining committee can recommend, instead of the company deciding what is best for you.
Some of the major takeaways from our last meeting with Kroger:
Negative Impact On Wages
- Kroger’s “Last, Best, and Final” offer eliminates your wage progression scale and replaces it with a 3-tiered wage system that ties your ability to receive wage increases to hours worked. This is a drastic change from guaranteed wage increases every year under your current union-negotiated contract.
- Kroger’s proposed wage system also allows them to modify wages throughout the duration of the agreement on a store-by-store basis. This could lead to workers making less at one store than workers at another store for doing the same job.
- Kroger’s “previous experience” proposal allows them to hire new workers at the top wage tier, allowing Kroger to pay new hires more than the people that have been working for Kroger for years.
- Kroger’s offer will terminate your Hour Bank on December 31,2021 and any unused hours will be forfeited.
- In addition to offering wage increases lower than what you have earned and deserve, Kroger continues to deny hazard pay for workers like you, who put yourself and your families at continued risk during the pandemic.
Threats to Your Job Roles, Department Duties, and Staffing
- Kroger’s offer gives them full authority to assign meat department workers to do work in other departments, including stocking, customer service, hanging tags, and cleaning and sanitation.
- Kroger’s offer also gives them full authority to assign clerks to do work in the meat department, including stocking, cleaning, and sanitation.
- This could lead to staffing issues which may affect your pay. If workers are expected to cover other departments’ work and their own, then Kroger could choose to staff less people in general. Staffing less people results in less total hours to go around and thus less opportunity to earn income.
Elimination of Your Affordable Healthcare
- Kroger is claiming we are at an “impasse” over your healthcare after only having 4 sessions (Lake Charles Clerks) & 3 sessions (Lake Charles Meat) with your bargaining committee present.
- Included in Kroger’s “Last, Best, and Final” offer is the elimination of your current South-Central health fund and replacing it with a company-controlled plan.
- Many of your fellow Houston members who were forced onto Kroger’s plan, have told us their co-pays, prescriptions, and other out-of-pocket expenses have significantly increased, making it more expensive for them to use their healthcare.
- Kroger’s company-administered plan requires current employees (hired before 1/1/22) to average:
- 25 hours per week for employee-only coverage and on 1/1/23, the hours required for employee-only coverage will increase to 27 per week
- 30 hours per week for employee + children coverage
- 36 hours per week for employee + spousal coverage
- Under your current South Central union-negotiated plan, participants have to work 20 hours a week to maintain coverage. period.
Your Union’s Proposals: What You Have Earned and Deserve
On 10/12, we made several proposals to better protect and support hardworking members like you, such as:
- A COVID-19 vaccine incentive program
- Establishing a KPP committee to allow joint oversight over prescription costs
- A proposal to form a worker committee to help workers get more hours so they can move through the company’s proposed wage levels and qualify for healthcare
- 2 healthcare options to merge into existing union-negotiated fundsOn 10/12, we made several proposals to better protect and support hardworking members like you, such as:
Kroger told us they were not interested in any of the proposals your bargaining committee presented and refused to commit to responding to these proposals in front of your bargaining committee.
Despite our numerous proposals and attempts to meet again with Kroger, they are claiming they don’t see a need to set more bargaining dates.
Let me be clear, your union will continue to push for more bargaining dates, for answers to our questions, and for a contract that you deserve.
Please stay tuned for more updates, and if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for text alerts by texting “KrogerHOU” to 83071.
Thank you for all that you do.
UFCW Local 455 President
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