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Business & Industry

Kroger Workers Avoid Strike

Photo: Creative Commons/Mike Kalasnik

There won’t be any picket lines later this month outside Kroger stores in Southwest and Central Virginia, West Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.

The union representing thousands of Kroger employees approved a new contract today—avoiding a potential strike. A lot of workers, though, weren’t too happy with the decision. 

As they left the hall where they spent a couple of hours going over the contract, some members  of Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers made their feelings clear.

But it was approved by some 60 votes out of about 800…a majority of workers agreeing with union negotiator Rick Howell that for the most part it was a pretty good deal.

“We got some protection for our post-65 retirees that they were wanting to get rid of.  We did get some raises for our veteran employees that were a little better than the other offer, so we feel good about that at least. “

Vickie Meadows, from the Harrisonburg Kroger, was hoping for better raises and benefits.

“I think the contract literally stunk. I think Kroger has sold us out and I cannot believe that the people that came could even vote for that. “

In a news release, Kroger said this was a good agreement for its associates, with good healthcare and pension fund support, along with higher pay.

Not high enough, though for people like Judy Toney, who works at a Roanoke store..

"I became single like four years ago. My husband died. So it’s harder on a single person, trying to make it on one income."

Union leaders believe the vote to authorize a strike later this month helped get their members a stronger proposal from the country’s biggest supermarket chain.

It will be four years before workers who don’t like it can try to get a better one. 

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