We all remember as this Pandemic of the Covid-19 virus began, no one was sure what to do or how to protect themselves from this contagious virus that has now left over 200,000 dead. Many employers began having employees work remotely from home, and others were required to follow Government “stay at home orders”. Some of the employees who were not allowed to stay at home, were the Grocery Workers! The Grocery Worker began working more overtime hours than ever before, giving up days off as they provided vital services to a world full of panic. Grocery stores were packed with lines flowing from the cashier into the grocery aisles. Parking lots were packed as every employee was working, the shelves were empty, and the company’s sales and profits were setting all-time highs.
Thank you for working harder, staying later, risking your safety and well-being to answer the call to provide essential services during this global pandemic. Sadly, as other business began to slowly open, Kroger took away the extra pay for working during hazardous conditions, leaving you to provide essential work with only a mandatory face mask and hand sanitizer.
Unfortunately, back when this was all taking place, UFCW members in Texas and Arkansas were negotiating terms for a new contract. Houston UFCW Local 455’s 15,000 members were negotiating by video conferencing with Kroger as their contract was to expire on April 11, 2020. Little Rock, Arkansas was also bargaining for a new contract. The Kroger executives worked from their homes where they proposed a gutting of Union members’ contracts and health benefits and NO hazard pay. Kroger’s damaging proposals included Company flexibility for the same freedoms as their competition, where workers have no contract, no Union, and no way to bargain over anything. After more than 25 bargaining/video sessions, Kroger remains determined to remove worker perks and forcibly move Union members into the Company “Kroger” controlled health fund. The 15,000 Houston Kroger employees were given a Last, Best and Final Offer on August 19, 2020 sometime after Kroger refused to sign an extension of the current contract. The only option left now is for these workers to strike as the Holiday season gets closer if Kroger does not relent. Houston Kroger workers have remained determined on Hazard Pay being restored.
In Houston, Texas Kroger is using the same bullying tactics and tricks they did here in New Mexico in 2018. They sought significant wage increases for short term newer employees, cuts that affect everyone, and the Company wants no rules and a lot of flexibility to operate like Wal-Mart, all at their employees’ expense.
Here is a summary of what Kroger has included in their Last, Best and Final for 15,000 Houston UFCW members as of October 2020: