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King Soopers strike continues as both sides negotiate for fifth day

The company said on Monday that progress is being made in the talks but that the process is moving slowly.

DENVER — King Soopers and the labor union that represents employees planned to hold talks for a fifth consecutive day Tuesday as the worker strike continued.

United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7, which represents King Soopers employees in Colorado, said negotiations would resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday after it held talks through the weekend with the company.

"The company is disappointed that the process is moving slowly but pleased that progress is being made," according to a news release.

Meanwhile, the union said there has been "little to no progress" has been made in recent days.

“We are deeply disappointed by this deterioration; we will return to the table today committed to securing a contract that meets these critical needs," UFCW Local President Kim Cordova said in a statement Tuesday morning before negotiations resumed.

The employee strike started Wednesday at stores in the Denver, Broomfield, Parker and Boulder areas, a day after UFCW rejected an offer that King Soopers called its "last, best and final offer."

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"Our picket lines remain strong," said Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, in a statement Sunday. "Our members will continue to raise their voices, and the strike will continue throughout the bargaining process."

The negotiations have been closed to the media, and the two sides have released contradictory statements on what has happened behind closed doors.

On Friday, after the first day of resumed talks, UFCW said it presented new offers on several topics and that King Soopers made an offer that was "even worse than it was in the days before the strike."

Meanwhile, King Soopers said on Saturday that UFCW had not provided new proposals, that the company's "last, best" offer from before the strike was still on the table through Jan. 22 and that some union statements on what was being offered were incorrect.

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King Soopers released the details of its latest offer Tuesday, which it said includes wage investments and signing bonuses of $170 million over the next three years.

  • Wage increases of up to $4.50 an hour in the first year, based on job classification and tenure, with additional increases over the life of the contract.
  • Starting pay increased to $16 an hour.

Under that offer, for example, a checker with five years of experience currently making $19.51 an hour would see a wage increase to $21.01 this year, $21.81 in 2023 and $22.61 in 2024, the company said.

The offer also includes an additional company investment into health care benefits that would result in "zero impact" to current premiums based on current projections, King Soopers said.

Credit: 9NEWS

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The union said it took issue with several proposals in the company's offer, such as "restricting the worker's ability to work overtime" and "allowing the company to lower wages during the term of agreement at its whim."

The union accused the company of unfair labor practices, saying it had failed to provide necessary information and tried to negotiate directly with employees.

Cordova said before the strike began that the company's proposed starting wage of $16 an hour was 13 cents over Denver's minimum wage, which was "not going to improve the lives of our grocery workers, who have done so much for these companies."

She said in addition to higher wages, workers want armed security and other safety improvements in stores, a faster path to full-time jobs, better health benefits and a secure pension plan.

Last week, the company said it had filed unfair labor practice charges against the union "for refusing to bargain in good faith," saying the union had rejected mediation services. Cordova said the union was not interested in working with a federal mediator, saying "adding another presence is not going to be productive."

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