DENVER (KDVR) — King Soopers employees will go on strike next week, according to union representatives who have been in contract negotiations with Colorado’s largest grocer for months.
A big question surrounding the strike is whether it will impact daily operations, as well as shoppers. FOX31 asked the president of King Soopers/City Market, Joe Kelley, who responded with “absolutely.” Kelley said with the looming strike among employees, things might look different in the coming weeks.
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 represents King Soopers employees and the president, Kim Cordova, estimates that more than 10,000 employees will not show up to work next week and is also asking shoppers to boycott the store as well.
“We have made a decision to call for a strike,” Cordova told FOX31. “They have pushed our hand and we are not going to be bullied by King Soopers. It’s time that they take the workers serious.”
Prior to announcing the unfair labor practices strike, the union had already filed a lawsuit against King Soopers for hiring third-party workers.
Cordova said the union is demanding a safe workplace, a “thriving” pay, secure health care and no third-party hiring. She adds that during the pandemic, workers have been subjected to unsafe conditions and sometimes violent incidents.
“The workers are mad. They’re fed up,” Cordova said. “The company has treated them with a lack of respect throughout this whole negotiation process and, frankly, throughout the pandemic.”
After months of negotiations, the union is not satisfied with what Colorado’s largest grocer is bringing to the table.
“I think it’s 100% reckless and disruptive,” Kelley said.
The King Soopers president is firing back after recently putting $148 million in wages on the table. Kelley said that if workers strike, stores will face closures and staffing shortages, and shoppers could have trouble finding items.
“If we have to close some of our stores because we can’t staff them, because she’s calling a strike, which is unfounded, then there won’t be enough groceries,” Kelley said.
Cordova confirms 74 stores are involved in the strike, including those in Boulder, Broomfield, Colorado Springs, Parker and the Denver metro.
Kelley said they’ve already flown in 300 workers from across the country and hired temporary staff to prepare, but it’s not enough to keep up with current staff. He added that they’re already short 2,400 workers.
As a message to associates, Kelley said he cares about them deeply and wants to keep negotiating. He says a strike helps no one and this strike makes no sense.
The union strike is expected to start on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 5 a.m. and could go until February.