Business

King Soopers Workers Will Strike Tragic Boulder Store When Reopened

A worker readying new signage at the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12.
A worker readying new signage at the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12. Photo by Michael Roberts
Editor's note: The members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 have ended their labor action against King Soopers. Get details in our post "King Soopers, Union Reach Tentative Agreement to End Strike." Continue for our previous coverage.

Early on January 12
, members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 began a strike against King Soopers, Colorado's largest grocery chain, and by midday, protests were underway at stores across the greater Denver area.

There was one notable exception: the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder, the site of a mass shooting last March 22 that killed ten people, including three store employees.

The branch, located at 3600 Table Mesa Drive, has been closed since the tragedy, but it's currently a hive of activity, with construction workers hurrying to ready the facility in advance of its announced reopening date: January 20, a week from today.
click to enlarge The entrance of the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
The entrance of the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12.
Photo by Michael Roberts
The timing could create a public-relations pitfall, however.

Local 7 has stated that without a new contract to replace the one that expired at 11:59 p.m. on January 8, or a deal to pause the labor action while new negotiations take place, the strike will continue until February 2. As a result, King Soopers could be overseeing the Table Mesa relaunch during demonstrations by striking employees, some of whom may have been on the scene during the fatal attack.

Kim Cordova, president of Local 7 and vice president of UFCW International, confirms that this is the current plan. "We will strike the Table Mesa store once opened," she notes. "Safety is a core issue that we want addressed in any new contract agreement."
click to enlarge A construction worker getting elevated outside the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
A construction worker getting elevated outside the Table Mesa King Soopers on January 12.
Photo by Michael Roberts
During a January 10 news conference in advance of the strike, Cordova underscored this last point — though the Boulder shooting wasn't the focus of her comments.

In noting that Local 7 has asked for armed security at stores since 2018, Cordova mentioned the Boulder incident only parenthetically, instead concentrating on risks faced by employees regarding the requirement that customers wear face coverings while inside stores.

"We've seen an uptick in violent crimes in our stores," Cordova said. "We've had violent behaviors, with customers spitting, slapping, pushing our members, attacking them, sometimes, in the middle of this mask issue. They've been verbally and physically assaulted, but the company won't provide armed security."
click to enlarge The sign welcoming shoppers to the Table Mesa King Soopers. - PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBERTS
The sign welcoming shoppers to the Table Mesa King Soopers.
Photo by Michael Roberts
King Soopers has not responded to Westword's questions regarding whether the reopening of the Table Mesa store is still set for January 20.

A visit to the site on January 12 suggested that while plenty still needs to be done, opening for business within days is very much within the realm of possibility. The construction staff assigned to the project is so large that their vehicles, along with oversized equipment, came close to filling the parking lot. Most of the work being done on the store's exterior was cosmetic, and a peek through the glass revealed that all the check stands, shelving and other basics are in place, albeit currently covered with drop cloths to prevent them from being coated with paint or construction-related dust.

In short, the store seems ready to make its return. But its comeback could prove to be more awkward than King Soopers executives might have imagined when they set January 20 as the new debut date.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts