Denver-area King Soopers workers vote to authorize strike; Colorado Springs wokers to vote next

Denver-area union members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against supermarket chain King Soopers, which is in the middle of contract negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.

Union members at 88 stores voted Sunday for a strike on claims of unfair labor practices. King Soopers employees in Colorado Springs were voting Monday on whether to authorize a strike. The earliest employees would walk off their jobs is Sunday, a day after the union’s contracts with King Soopers expire.

King Soopers and City Market, both owned by Cincinati-based Kroger Co., and Albertsons, which owns Albertsons and Safeway stores in Colorado, are negotiating new contracts with the UFCW Local 7.

Kim Cordova, union president, has said both grocery chains have proposed unacceptable concessions, especially at a time when employees have put their health at risk as they continue working through the coronavirus pandemic. The union filed a lawsuit against King Soopers last week, accusing the company of unfair labor practices, such as using third-party staffing agencies for union-covered work.

The UFCW Local 7 said 98% of the Denver-area retail employees voted to authorize a strike; 97% of the Denver-area meat workers backed a strike; and 100% of the retail and meat workers in Parker and Boulder voted for a strike.

The union represents about 17,000 grocery employees in Colorado and Wyoming. It is negotiating separately with Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the state and the U.S., and Albertsons Cos., which acquired Safeway in 2015.

The last strike by grocery workers in Colorado was in 1996. Union members at King Soopers walked off the job and Safeway and Albertsons eventually locked out union members. The strike lasted 42 days.

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