DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver judge has limited how many picketers are allowed at each King Soopers location after the grocer asked for a restraining order to limit demonstrations in front of its stores.
King Soopers said those who are picketing have threatened and intimidated customers and employees who choose to work. The impact has led to fewer people at stores.
On Tuesday, Denver District Judge Marie Avery Moses granted the temporary restraining order in part. The order limits picketers to 10 or fewer at each location and orders them not to block or follow customers, employees or vehicle traffic. It also bars picketers from shouting any closer than 20 feet from a person.
The court posted the full order here. It applies to the Denver metro, including Denver, Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas, Broomfield and Elbert counties.
Picketers ‘boo,’ yell at King Soopers customers
King Soopers employees have been on the picket line since Jan. 12. FOX31 crews have seen picketers encourage people to shop at Safeway. Their demonstrations have nearly cleared King Soopers parking lots.
“As I was walking up, I heard them chanting, just a few people, ‘Don’t shop here. Go to Safeway or Walmart,'” a King Soopers customer named Artie said. “These people don’t care about anybody.”
Artie was at a King Soopers recently to pick up a prescription. He recalled an unsavory approach.
“I just didn’t think it was right for them to boo people that were going in and yelling at them,” he said.
In the complaint filed Tuesday, King Soopers accused union workers of blocking entrances to stores and creating traffic issues in parking lots. The grocer also said customers have been yelled at and harassed. Delivery trucks have been blocked, King Soopers alleged.
In its filing, King Soopers wanted to limit the demonstrations to five or fewer pickets at each store. It also wanted to ensure those who are striking cannot communicate with customers and employees who are still working.
King Soopers union calls action ‘bullying’
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 President Kim Cordova said the union “strongly disagrees” with the company’s “unfounded allegations” and refers to them as “bullying tactics.”
King Soopers released the following statement on Tuesday:
Earlier today Local 7 issued a press release accusing King Soopers of implementing ‘bullying’ tactics in the wake of the company filing for a temporary restraining order (TRO). The union also flung harsh allegations regarding the court’s order, stating that the TRO is an attempt to impede our associates’ freedom of speech. Today, the court ruled that union’s actions were unlawful and unsafe activities and granted the TRO.
To be extremely clear – we support our associates’ right to picket, we also respect our associates’ right to cross the picket line and work and our customers’ right to cross the line to shop. Unfortunately, at several locations picketers are engaging in unlawful activity including threatening, blocking and intimidating both associates and customers who have chosen to cross the picket line. Additionally, there have been instances where picketers are blocking trucks from delivering to our stores. These activities are not peaceful and frankly are unsafe. The safety of our associates, customers, and communities will ALWAYS come first and this temporary restraining order is a reflection of that commitment. It is truly disappointing that the union would endorse these unlawful behaviors.Jessica Trowbridge, King Soopers spokesperson
“If necessary,” according to the judge, a hearing on the matter has been set for Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. at Denver District Court at 1437 Bannock St.