May 25, 2007
Washington, DC—Grocery workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) are fighting back against the Kroger Company’s nineteenth century bargaining tactics. Kroger seems to be operating under that century’s model of “robber baron bargaining”—pushing workers to the brink and forcing strikes, all to justify greedy demands at the bargaining table and in the community.
In Houston, where 12,700 workers are involved in negotiations with Kroger, UFCW members turned out in droves to vote by over 97% to authorize a strike against the supermarket company.
“There’s no excuse for Kroger’s behavior,” said Pat O’Neill, UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Collective Bargaining. “By beating on their own workers, Kroger is hurting morale in the stores, and customers are changing their shopping habits in an attempt to avoid a crisis at their grocery store. Ultimately, it accomplishes little for either side at the table.”
It’s time to put an end to this kind of “crisis bargaining” where a profitable company like Kroger comes to the table making outrageous demands of its hourly workers–threatening to chronically underfund health care and risk huge benefit cuts for workers.
UFCW members understand that the rising cost of health care in the U.S. is a crisis we all must face together. In previous contracts, Houston members have worked diligently to lower health care costs. Workers are picking up their share. Their hard work has made Kroger the hugely profitable chain it is today.
But Kroger’s greed just keeps increasing. The company seems intent on driving workers to the brink of a strike, and threatening to disrupt tens of thousands of consumers in an attempt to extract even more from its workforce.
Kroger can’t have it both ways. CEO David Dillon crows to investors and the public that when Wal-Mart expands its operations, Kroger gains market share, increases sales and boosts profits. There’s no excuse, then, to claim that competition from the low-wage, no-benefit Wal-Mart should require workers to strike in order to save affordable health care.
In Southern California, Seattle, Oregon, Montana, Illinois, Detroit, Toledo, and St Louis, UFCW members working in the grocery industry are also in tough negotiations with mammoth employers like Kroger and Supervalu. Members throughout the country are unified in a nationwide movement to improve jobs in the grocery industry for workers, families, and communities.
For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at www.groceryworkersunited.org.