Business

King Soopers Union Workers to Strike on January 12

A December 2020 photo of a protest at a Denver-area King Soopers store over the company's refusal to reinstate "hero" pay for frontline workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A December 2020 photo of a protest at a Denver-area King Soopers store over the company's refusal to reinstate "hero" pay for frontline workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of UCFW Local 7
Editor's note: King Soopers has responded to the plan for UFCW Local 7 employees to strike beginning next week. Learn more in our post "King Soopers Rips Union Over Impending Strike." Continue for our previous coverage.

Days after King Soopers employees in metro Denver and Colorado Springs represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 voted to authorize a strike, the union has announced the time and date for a walkout: 5 a.m. Wednesday, January 12.

The strike is currently scheduled to continue for three weeks, until February 2. UFCW Local 7 represents approximately 17,000 workers at 148 King Soopers stores in Colorado and two in Wyoming.

In announcing the impending action, Kim Cordova, the president of Local 7 and vice president of UFCW International, issued a statement: "UFCW Local 7 members who work at King Soopers have had enough of the Company’s unfair labor practices and will strike starting January 12. This is a direct result of the Company’s bad faith at the bargaining table. King Soopers is enjoying record profits while leaving its workers to struggle with low wages. Grocery workers ensure that our communities have access to food, but they cannot even afford to feed their own families. This is grossly unfair. King Soopers has chosen to enrich its bottom line, instead of protecting workers who have risked their lives on the front lines."

Local 7 and King Soopers have had a prickly relationship in recent years. In December 2020, for example, the union pushed its call for a return of so-called "hero" pay — a $2-per-hour bump given to employees during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic — by projecting images (some featuring Dr. Seuss's Grinch character) on selected branches.

Bargaining sessions for a new contract to replace a pact that expires at 11:59 p.m. on January 8 have been underway in recent weeks. But on December 29, Local 7 filed a lawsuit for what it described as "breach of contract over vendors in the stores."

After the subsequent strike vote by workers in the Denver-Boulder area, King Soopers spokesperson Jessica Trowbridge pushed back against claims by Local 7, noting that "last week King Soopers provided a comprehensive offer that included $145 million in new wage investments — a proposal that the UFCW Local 7 have yet to counteroffer.... We care deeply about our associates and know that a work stoppage creates a troubling position that often leads to financial hardships for our associates."

Trowbridge also divulged that "the company is in the process of filing unfair labor practice charges against the union president and Local 7 for its bad faith bargaining and tactics as well as pursuing other legal action for unlawful conduct."

King Soopers has not yet responded to Westword's request for comment about the announcement of a strike date, or the status of that filing. In the meantime, Cordova contends that "our plea remains the same: Stop these unfair labor practices, and respect us, protect us and pay us what we deserve. UFCW Local 7 members will remain on strike until the company agrees to cease these unfair labor practices and comes to the negotiating table in good faith. During this strike, we ask for the support of our community. We are grateful for all the overwhelming support received and for the individuals, union partners, organizations that will be coming to Colorado to support our efforts and fight. We will continue to be relentless in the fight for our members."

Click to read UCFW Local 7 v. King Soopers.
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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