By Jack Lowenstein

(CBS4) – Both King Soopers and UFCW Local 7, the union representing King Soopers workers, confirmed Friday morning both parties reached a tentative 3-year agreement to settle the recent dispute. In the press release issued by the union, it said the strike will end immediately, and workers can return to work as soon as during the day.

“After months of negotiations and after our members walked out on strike, we have reached a tentative agreement with King Soopers/City Market that addresses the Company’s unfair labor practices and ensures that our members will receive the respect, pay, and protection they warrant,” said Kim Cordova, the president of UFCW Local 7, in the union’s press release. “This fight will always be about the workers. I could not be prouder of our members who put it all on the line to have their voices heard.”

King Soopers grocery store workers walk the picket line as they strike at more than 70 stores across the Denver metro area on Jan. 12, 2022 in Denver. (credit: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

“We are pleased that this agreement allows us to put more money in our associates’ paychecks and secures healthcare and pension plans.” said Joe Kelley, the president of King Soopers and City Market, in the King Soopers press release. “We look forward to welcoming back our associates and customers.”

The workers’ union is expected to share the details of the tentative agreement with its members to make a final vote.

This tentative agreement comes two weeks after the contracts began expiring throughout Colorado, and over 8,000 workers at 78 stores went on strike in the Denver metro area to protest what were deemed unfair labor practices by King Soopers during the past few months of negotiation.

“It’s kinda weird going back to work not knowing what kind of agreement we agreed to, Joe Kelly has been silent about it, the union has been silent about it saying we’ll see on Monday,” said Matthew Cornwell, a union member. “It’s just kind of making us all anxious seeing what kind of agreement they actually came to before we actually go back to work.”

Cornwell has followed the negotiations closely, and believes workers deserve everything union president proposed, especially when it comes to employee safety.

“I just hope to see, ya know, us getting paid well, and armed security guards to help deal with all the violence that’s been going on- especially with our King Soopers and King Soopers around Denver, so I think it will be a much nicer safer place to shop after its all said and done.”

Cornwell works at a King Soopers in Glendale, he says he has experienced many issues while at work over the last couple of years.

“I’ve had my tires slashed I’ve had my headlights bashed in; on Thanksgiving my car was stolen out of the parking lot. I never saw it again. I bought a new car and they’ve already tried to break in with a flathead screwdriver.”

As for the customers shopping at Cornwell’s store, more were concerned about bare shelves in the store over contract negotiations.

“The grocery store is pretty bare with food, and I don’t know if that’s because of COVID or because of workers not being able to stock the shelves,” said Gayla Cisneros, a shopper.

Cisneros said she was aware of the strike but said the grocery store was the most convenient.

“I need food, I have a family to feed,” she said.

The final details of the contract will be made public to union workers in the coming days, following ratification votes by UFCW Local 7 members beginning Monday.

“All of us at Local 7 are proud to fight on behalf of our members who show up to work every day, keeping shelves full to feed their communities through this ongoing pandemic while barely making ends meet to feed and provide for their own families. We didn’t ask for this fight, but the Company chose to put profits over people for so long and failed to listen to the workers who made its success possible,” Cordova continued in her statement in the union’s press release.

“Now, our members have the contracts they deserve and can be proud of.

“This would not have been possible without the support of our allies throughout Colorado and across the country. To those who supported our members by honoring the picket line and showing up in solidarity, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Jack Lowenstein