By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Thousands of King Soopers employees walked off the job on Wednesday marking the first day of what could be a lengthy strike against the company.

King Soopers grocery store worker Lawrence Kelly, left, waves at passing drivers as he joins his fellow union members as they strike across the Denver metro area on Jan. 12, 2022 in Denver. (credit: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

“I came in at noon and started striking at about 12:30 p.m.,” one employee told CBS4.

“I will stand out here for three months to get our people better wages,” another said.

It comes as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, denied what King Soopers Division President Joe Kelley called their best and final offer.

“We increased the wages from $148 million to $170 million and that’s one addition to the health and welfare medical plan that we have on the table which is a solid plan and they also have a pension,” he said.

Union President Kim Cordova says the company isn’t being transparent and that the offer the company presented to its associates only looked good on the surface.

“They’ve only shown them a wage sheet. They’re not showing them the concessions where they have in their proposal that they could pull the wages backwards and so while they’re telling the company… or our communities the media that they’re offering $170m worth of wages, if their competitors offer less money than the contracts these workers vote on, would be reduced to a lower contract,” she said.

Those on the picket line say in addition to more money, they want to feel safe at work.

“We are not asking for $50 an hour just a livable wage,” Devin Loveco said. He’s worked in produce for King Soopers for years.

“Our lives are on the line in there and it’s a grocery store it shouldn’t be like that,” Sarah Rock, a florist at King Soopers for the last 6 years said.

Both sides have filed unfair labor disputes — first the Union and most recently King Soopers.

Kelley says they are frustrated as well, claiming the union president is unwilling to negotiate.

“We’ll go to the bargaining table this afternoon, we’ll go tonight, we’ll go overnight, we’ve offered every day 24 hours a day to meet her. Unfortunately, she keeps saying no,” he said.

Cordova says the company has failed to respond to critical requests and data that would allow them to properly write and evaluate proposals. She also claims the latest offer from King Soopers came by email, not at a bargaining table.

UFCW’s strike impacts nearly 80 grocery stores in Colorado (which all remain open) including:

– Arvada (Sheridan Boulevard, Candelas Parkway, 64th Avenue, Wadsworth Boulevard, 58th Avenue)
– Aurora (Colfax Avenue, Hampden Avenue, Havana Street, Buckley Road, Peoria Street, Smoky Hill Road, South Parker Road, 17000 Iliff Avenue, Mississippi Avenue)
– Boulder (30th Street)
– Boulder/Gunbarrel (Lookout Road)
– Broomfield (Sheridan Boulevard, Highway 287, 136th Avenue)
– Centennial (Arapahoe Road, University Boulevard, Holly Street)
– Commerce City (62nd Avenue, 104th Avenue)
– Denver (Colorado Boulevard, MLK Boulevard, 1950 Chestnut Place, Quebec Street, Green Valley Ranch Boulevard, Florida Avenue, 2727 Evans Avenue, Monaco Parkway, 9th Avenue, Hampden Avenue, Sheridan Boulevard, Krameria Street, Speer Boulevard)
– Edgewater (Sheridan Boulevard)
– Englewood (Englewood Parkway, University Boulevard, Federal Boulevard, Sheridan Boulevard)
– Evergreen (Bergen Parkway)
– Federal Heights (84th Avenue, 84th Avenue)
– Glendale (Leetsdale Drive)
– Golden (South Golden Road)
– Greenwood Village (Holly Street, Yosemite Street)
– Highlands Ranch (Quebec Street, 3000 Red Cedar Drive, University Boulevard, Wildcat Reserve Parkway)
– Lakewood (Alameda Avenue, Alameda Parkway, 1555 Quail Street, Kipling Parkway, Wadsworth Boulevard)
– Littleton (Wadsworth Boulevard, Littleton Boulevard, South Broadway, Belleview Avenue, 6760 Pierce Street, Ken Caryl Avenue)
– Louisville (South Boulder Road)
– Parker (Cottonwood Drive, Lincoln Avenue, South Parker Road)
– Thornton (120th Avenue, 104th Avenue)
– Westminster (Wadsworth Parkway, Federal Boulevard)
– Wheat Ridge (Sheridan Boulevard, Youngfield Street)

Karen Morfitt