DENVER (CBS4)- As the strike against some Colorado Front Range King Soopers stores rolled into its second day, demonstrators in Denver and Aurora stood outside the stores and asked shoppers to spend their money elsewhere.
Setting aside benefits, one thing King Soopers workers want is a living wage. The last final offer the store’s parent company Kroger made to try to meet those demands was a starting rate of $16 an hour.
Local 7 the union representing the workers says this offer was not acceptable and members voted to strike.
Gigi Jones is a full-time supervisor at King Soopers and she says she has to work full time at King Soopers, and two other part-time jobs to afford skyrocketing rents. She says she loves working at King Soopers and would rather be working, but it was time she stood up for herself.
“I have to be able to go into work and make enough money to get by,” she said.
She and her fellow union members are calling for Kroger to pay a living wage so they can get by working a full 40 hours a week at one job and not spend every waking hour working side jobs.
Kishore Kulkarni, a professor of Economics at MSU Denver, says rising prices have raised the living wage.
“I think the living wage in Colorado is somewhere between $18 and $20 without doubt,” he said.
Kulkarni says workers not willing to expose themselves to COVID-19 by returning to their jobs, along with supply chain issues, have driven prices for everything from food to housing up and it isn’t going to slow down soon.
He said, “Labor has a point in asking for higher wages and employers should get ready to either give it to them or have some friction with them.”
That is what is happening at King Soopers stores the Denver metro area. Kulkarni says labor in other retail stores or other industries altogether, like airlines, will likely follow suit.
Gigi just hopes she can soon work one full-time job at King Soopers and put food on the table.
“Give us something more,” she said.