More than 8,000 workers that are employed at Kroger’s nearly 80 King Soopers stores are on strike today for access to better wages and benefits.
The strike was announced after the latest round of negotiations between the Kroger co-owned Colorado chain and its workers’ union fell apart.
The strike began at 7 am on Wednesday and will impact King Soopers stores in the Denver metropolitan area, as well as those in Boulder, Parker and Broomfield cities of Colorado, according to Reuters.
King Soopers’ workers are seeking a wage increase of at least $6 per hour for all employees. The company, however, is only offering a $4.50 hourly increment based on job classification and tenure as its “last, best and final offer.” The offer is the same as that the company had previously proposed.
The latest offer, which was made on Tuesday, noted that the company would invest $170 million in improving wages and bonuses over the next three years. Furthermore, it will offer a starting pay of $16 per hour and in healthcare benefits.
The union previously rejected two other offers, including one for $148 million, which was made last week. The union argued that the latest offer is worse than the previous offers in many ways as it simply retains previously proposed concessions and just adds new concessionary items.
“Union employees generally vote to strike as a last resort to signal that they are unwilling to work under what they consider to be unfair or unsafe working conditions,” said Helen Rella, an employment attorney at Wilk Auslander.
Kroger’s disagreed with the claims and argued that it pays higher hourly wages than its peers in the U.S. retail industry, according to a study commissioned by the company.
King Soopers currently runs more than 110 stores in Colorado and is ranked as the top grocery chain by market share in the state.