After 10-day strike, Colorado grocery workers make gains

By Valerie Johnson
and Karen Ray
February 7, 2022
UFCW members strike King Soopers, Federal Heights, Colorado, Jan. 17. Workers won pay raise, better conditions.
Militant/Karen RayUFCW members strike King Soopers, Federal Heights, Colorado, Jan. 17. Workers won pay raise, better conditions.

DENVER — After a solid and lively 10-day strike against King Soopers grocery-store bosses by 8,400 United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 members from Boulder to Parker, Colorado,  and the greater metro area here, a majority voted in big union meetings to approve a new three-year contract Jan. 24.

It will also be presented to thousands more union members at King Soopers in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and northern Colorado whose contracts run out over the next couple weeks.

King Soopers is owned by Kroger, the country’s largest grocery store chain.

While all the details of the contract haven’t yet been made public, and there was some opposition, workers won hourly wage hikes ranging from $2 to $5, and long-overdue improvement to working conditions. There were also gains in  health care and retirement benefits, and bosses agreed that within 90 days at least 500 part-time positions would be made full time.

While this was a short strike, strikers won a lot of support from other unions and the community. Few workers crossed the  boisterous picket lines, and passing drivers honked their horns in support. There were large picket lines every day until the company got a compliant judge to impose an injunction that limited the union to just 10 pickets per store.

United Food and Commercial Workers had released a report, “Hungry at the Table,” showing how far workers’ conditions had been pushed down in the last two decades. “The data demonstrates that workers’ financial distress, housing insecurity and food insecurity are not resulting from their personal failures but rather, from Kroger’s companywide policies for cutting costs and increasing profits,” the report said.

Local 7 is also in negotiations with Albertsons, which has 7,000 union members at Safeway and Albertsons groceries in Colorado and Wyoming.

“This [contract] would not have been possible without the support of our allies throughout Colorado and across the country,” Local 7 President Kim Cordova said. “Strikes absolutely work. It shows the company they can’t run without workers.”