MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 employed by Kroger are running out of patience and are staging rallies at stores to let management and customers know they want a deal.
New contract negotiations have been ongoing since August, but despite the support of federal mediators, the company is no closer to reaching a deal. The previous union contract expired on August 29 and was extended until October 17. Workers are now working without a contract.
The union is advocating for better wages, healthcare and safe working conditions, including hazard pay for frontline associates continuing to work during the pandemic.
Lisa Butcher is a 38 year employee and attended a protest at the Kroger location in Sabraton Friday.
“Healthcare, seniority and pay, they don’t want to give any senior employees a pay raise,” Butcher said,”They want to cut our benefits during a pandemic when we are essential workers.”
Data from the union says 103 grocery workers have died and another 14,300 workers have tested positive for the virus.
“They’ve been negotiating- they’ve had since August,” Butcher said,” Nothing yet and that’s why we’re out here, we want to get it done.”
Many businesses have shutdown, but Kroger workers have continued to work regular shifts, according to Butcher.
“We’ve worked through this pandemic, we’ve risked our lives,” Butcher said,” They aren’t helping us at all by not giving us a contract.”
Part-time and full-time received one-time bonuses of $300 and $150 respectively early in the pandemic. June 18, another similar for qualified full-time and part-time workers. The company also offered an extra a $2.00/hour increase for all employees, that program ended May 16.