UPDATE: Kroger releases statement on workers staging protests.
“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. 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,” said Allison McGee, corporate affairs manager for Kroger Mid-Atlantic.
CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – On Thursday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m., Kroger workers in West Virginia are staging car caravan protests<http://www.ufcw400.org/2020/09/25/oct-1-car-caravan-for-a-fair-contract-at-kroger/> in Charleston, Beckley and Parkersburg to call on the grocer to negotiate a fair union contract.
Protesters are meeting at each of the following locations at 4:00 p.m. to kickoff the caravans:
* Kroger #753, 930 Division St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
* Kroger #790, 133 Beckley Crossing Shopping Center, Beckley, WV 25801
* Kroger #772, 5717 MacCorkle Ave SE, Charleston, WV 25304
“With the pandemic continuing to take lives, we are holding socially distanced protests using car caravans to keep everyone safe,” explained UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici.
Negotiations over a new union contract have been underway 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 is currently under extension until October 17. The union is advocating for better wages, healthcare and safe working conditions, including hazard pay for frontline associates continuing to work during the pandemic.
In August, UFCW confirmed<http://www.ufcw.org/press-releases/americas-largest-food-retail-union-calls-for-action-to-prioritize-safety-of-frontline-workers-essential-to-food-supply-chain-during-covid-19> there have been at least 103 grocery worker deaths and over 14,300 grocery workers infected or exposed to COVID-19. As a new investigation by Bloomberg<https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-08-27/covid-pandemic-u-s-businesses-issue-gag-rules-to-stop-workers-from-talking> recently reported, the actual national number of workers who have died, become sick, or been exposed, is likely much higher given that America’s largest food companies have launched an effort to hide the true human cost.