January 3, 2012
Washington, D.C. – The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) local unions and Kroger Company have announced today an agreement to improve and secure pension funds, or defined benefit pension plans, for over 170,000 retired and active Kroger workers. The pension plan, which will result from the merger of four plans, includes a ten-year review and will affect Kroger workers who are members of 14 UFCW local unions in 15 states, primarily in the Midwest and South.The combined plan will protect the current benefits of vested employees and enhance the benefits of new hires. The plan will also include automatic benefit increases as pay increases, with benefits proportionately pegged to salary levels, and will provide a more secure and stable pension fund in an unstable financial environment. The combined plan also includes a commitment by Kroger to pay off all of the unfunded liability in the markets covered by the 14 UFCW local unions. In a volatile financial environment, this plan represents a long term solution for a secure retirement for our hard working members who have chosen a career in the retail food industry, said UFCW International President Joseph T. Hansen. The UFCW is proud of our local union leaders and Kroger for working together toward an innovative solution for workers retirement security. Defined benefit pension plans are the most secure retirement system for workers. While many workers are forced to rely on their own investments, like 401 (k) plans, or have no retirement at all, UFCW members have retirement security through their pension benefits that provide for a monthly payment for their lifetime after they retire. Members of the 14 UFCW local unions are in the process of ratifying the new plan. Those members who have already met have overwhelmingly approved the proposal. More than 197,000 UFCW members work in Kroger stores across the country.