CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The union representing Kroger workers and local workers held a car caravan protest in Charleston on Thursday to demand the company negotiate a fair union contract.
Representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400 were on site at the Kanawha City Kroger in the 5700 block of MacCorkle Avenue driving around the lot and beeping horns during a busy shopping hour. Protestors were also at Kroger locations on Division Street in Parkersburg and the Beckley Crossing Shopping Center.
“Kroger is on negotiations with UFCW Local 400 and we intend to let the public know that we want to keep our healthcare for our retirees,” Thomas Hogan, a worker at the West Side Kroger told 580-WCHS.
“We want to keep our healthcare for our retirees and workers that have several more years before retirement.”
According to a release by the union, negotiations over a new union contract have been underway since August and the company is no closer to reaching a deal on Oct 1.
The previous union contract expired Aug. 29 and is currently under extension until Oct. 17, the union said.
Kroger released a statement Friday morning:
“The company and union have signed a contract extension through October 17 which gives the parties additional time to continue discussions. It’s our hope that we reach an agreement at the bargaining table that continues to reward and recognize Kroger Mid-Atlantic’s hard-working team of associates.,” Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic said. “We believe associates are entitled to good pay, affordable health care and a pension benefit when they retire. In fact, The Kroger Company is investing nearly $1 billion to secure a pension benefit for 33,000 Kroger associates, including many of our West Virginia associates. We value the work and contributions of every associate and will continue to have meaningful discussions that benefit all associates.”
Hogan said retirement and medical benefits are at risk. He said union members are also pushing for safer working conditions.
“We got the moral high ground here, everyone deserves healthcare. These companies make their profits off of our backs and shoulders every day. We feel they should step up and do what’s right with their workers,” Hogan said.
In September, workers were out front of the same store, demanding hazard pay while working during the pandemic.
“We are out here helping the public, making sure they have food for their table and maintaining the quality of food. We have to expose ourselves to folks regularly,” Hogan said.
Hogan said the union workers plan an even larger protest next week.