October 9, 2007


Workers Taking Strike Authorization Vote to Fight Kroger’s Gaslight Era Bargaining Tactics

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 Cincinnati, where 10,000 workers are involved in negotiations with Kroger, UFCW Local 1099 members are meeting at sessions throughout the day on Wednesday, October 10, 2007, to consider the company’s latest proposals.  The workers’ bargaining committee is recommending that workers reject the proposals and vote to authorize a strike.  Meetings and times can be found at www.ufcw1099.org.

“There’s no excuse for Kroger’s behavior,” said Lennie Wyatt, UFCW International Vice President and President of Local 1099.  “This year, tens of thousands of Kroger employees have been pushed to the brink by their company and forced to vote to strike before Kroger gets serious at the bargaining table.  These hardball tactics are an insult to Kroger employees and customers.”

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—demanding devastating cuts to workers’ health care and other benefits.

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, Local 1099 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.

Across the country, Kroger workers have reached agreements – without a strike – that provide for preventative health care benefits, affordable premiums, and quality care for workers and their families.  Over the past ten months, UFCW members in Southern California, Seattle, Oregon, Detroit, Texas, and Toledo, Ohio have signed new contracts with Kroger without a work stoppage.  Cincinnati workers deserve the same.

For more on UFCW negotiations across the country, please visit the Grocery Workers United website at www.groceryworkersunited.org.