By Anica Padilla

DENVER (CBS4) — Your King Soopers store employees may soon be picketing. Union members in Denver and Colorado Springs have voted in favor of a strike, citing what they called “the company’s egregious and unrelenting unfair labor practices.”

(credit: CBS)

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 held the pre-authorization strike vote on Sunday in Denver and on Monday in Colorado Springs. Workers will remain at work at least through the end of their current agreement, which expires at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8.

Nearly 60% of store associates are UFCW Local 7 members and at least one store in Highlands Ranch is already seeking temporary workers.

(credit: CBS)

King Soopers is currently in contract negotiations over wages and UFCW representatives say the chain “continues to go around the Union hiring outside workers at a higher rate, prohibiting Union activity, attempting to bargain directly with workers instead of the Union, and imposing unfair wage changes.”

“Moreover, at the table, King Soopers has failed to agree to important changes to wages, health care, and safety,” union officials stated. “The Company’s proposals would result in serious funding issues for workers’ health care plan, and cause significant benefit cuts.”

On Saturday, Dec. 29, King Soopers released the following statement:

King Soopers continues to engage with the UFCW Local 7 in ongoing contract negotiations. Today, the company proposed a comprehensive offer containing significant investments in associate wages, health care and pension plans, proposing an investment of more than $145 million in new wages over the next four years.

This investment brings over 75% of associates’ average hourly wage to more than $18 an hour, with more than 50% of associates making over $20 for an average hourly wage. This is in addition to providing industry leading health care and a pension for when they retire.

What does this investment mean for a checker?

As an example, here’s what this investment would mean for a checker with five years of experience:
• Current wage $19.51 an hour
• 2022 +.50 cents = $20.01
• 2023 +.50 cents = $20.51
• 2024 +.50 cents = $21.01
• 2025 + .50 cents = $21.51

For a full-time checker their annual compensation would be nearly $45,000 annually.

“We will continue to do everything we can to balance investments in wages and overall well-being while keeping food affordable for our customers. We remain committed to our people and our Colorado community,” said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market. “This offer adds to our associates’ paychecks, while providing them with
premium health care coverage and a company funded pension – which many of our competitors do not offer,” added Joe.

Currently 58% of our associates are UFCW Local 7 members, however we are committed to making these investments across our company, providing pay increases to associates regardless of their union status.

Anica Padilla