Several Denver-area King Soopers stores recently solicited applications for temporary workers as a “precautionary measure” as negotiations between Colorado's largest supermarket chain and a union representing 12,000 of its workers continue to make little progress. A company spokesman says that as of today, March 5, the displays have been removed.
Photos posted to social media and the website of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 show signs inside King Soopers stores advertising the temporary positions “due to a potential labor dispute” with the union. Listings for temporary positions have also been posted to the company’s website.
Meanwhile, UFCW Local 7 is distributing a flier that lists upcoming job fairs to members who may be “looking for a job to get through a potential strike.”
"At this time we aren’t seeking temporary workers, and all signs have been removed," King Soopers spokesman Adam Williamson in a statement. “The company and the union continue to negotiate. There was progress made over the last two sessions. We know our associates are the heart of our company and our goal with every negotiation is to provide them a competitive compensation package of wages and benefits.”
The latest round of negotiations between the supermarket chain and UFCW Local 7 was held Sunday and lasted until 3 a.m. Monday morning, according to the union’s automated hotline for bargaining updates. The two sides have been negotiating a new agreement since December. Last week, the union withdrew the indefinite contract extension to which it had agreed in January as bargaining continued, raising the possibility of a strike.
“The bargaining parties have made little progress in the negotiations,” said UFCW Local 7 president Kim Cordova in a statement on the withdrawal, “and remain far apart on a wide variety of critical issues, including but not limited to, two-tier benefit discrimination, workplace safety, overtime protections, benefits for victims of domestic abuse, experience credit for members of America’s armed forces and whether sick grocery workers should nonetheless be compelled to work.”
In a notice to union members, UFCW Local 7 blasted proposals from King Soopers on wages, health care and retirement benefits. More than half of union workers stand to receive no raises under the company's latest offer, according to the union.
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King Soopers, known in some locations as City Market, operates 152 stores across Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. Its parent company, Kroger, is the country's largest supermarket chain by revenue and the second-largest retailer after Walmart; it reported a profit of more than $2.8 billion over the first three quarters of 2018.
UFCW Local 7, which represents 22,000 workers in grocery, meatpacking and other industries in Colorado and Wyoming, is also currently bargaining with Safeway and Albertsons stores. Those negotiations appear to have made more progress, and remain under a contract extension.
Negotiators for the union and King Soopers will meet for their twelfth round of bargaining on Thursday, March 7, at the Hyatt Regency Conference Center in Aurora. It’s the final day of scheduled negotiations.