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Kroger workers approve contract

PARKERSBURG — Kroger workers have recently approved a new contract and workers will remain on the job and not go on strike.

The deal was approved by Kroger workers with UFCW Local 400 on Saturday. The vote included employees from 39 stores statewide, including those in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

“Following votes taken over two days at stores throughout the region, UFCW Local 400 members working at Kroger stores under our West Virginia contract voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement,” according to a statement on the union’s website. “The agreement was unanimously recommended by the Bargaining Advisory Committee and members voted 701-208 in favor of adopting the contract. Ballots were tallied over Zoom video conference to allow members to witness the count.”

The three-and-a-half-year agreement guarantees health care funding that will fully fund employees’ health care for the life of the contract; raises for everyone; premiums for all department heads; no increase to prescription drug costs maximums and a new diabetes program to reduce drug costs; new hours eligibility measurement period doesn’t start until after ratification; and all raises will retroactive to Nov. 1.

“While no contract is perfect, this agreement is a significant improvement from the last offer that we resoundingly rejected,” the union’s statement said. “By standing together, we were able to preserve our health care funding for the life of the contract and make other improvements that resulted in a fair deal.”

Earlier this month, Kroger workers voted to reject the company’s previous contract proposal and to approve a strike if negotiations could not secure a better deal. The union said, in a statement, they had undergone “intense negotiations” in the last few weeks before reaching the new agreement.

“This would not have happened without the unity, solidarity and strength of our members,” the union said in its statement. “When Kroger threatened to put our health care at risk, we stood strong and proved we were willing to fight for what we deserve.”

The agreement covers more than 4,200 associates in West Virginia and surrounding areas, according to a statement from Kroger. The deal includes a more than $20 million wage investment and nearly $100 million investment that maintains “exceptional health care benefits,” Kroger’s statement said.

“Kroger is pleased our associates have ratified the contract and recognized our continued investment in their success,” said Paula Ginnett, president of the Kroger Mid-Atlantic division. “This contract provides wage increases for every associate while keeping associate weekly contributions for health care benefits the same through 2021. This is affirmation of our commitment to providing a competitive total benefits package for our associates. I appreciate our associates for supporting this agreement and for the excellent service they provide our customers every day.”

Monday, the West Virginia Retailers Association applauded the Kroger Company and UFCW Local 400 on reaching an agreement that will benefit more than 4,200 frontline grocery workers in Kroger’s stores across the state, in a statement released by the group.

The agreement, which includes more than $20 million in pay increases and improvements to the company’s health care coverage, is a win-win for West Virginia’s workers and economy, the statement said.

“(The) agreement between Kroger and Local 400 is a win for West Virginia’s frontline essential workers and their families,” said WVRA President Bridget Lambert. “Under the new agreement, all 4,200-plus Kroger employees in West Virginia will receive an increase in wages; continue to receive first-class health care benefits, and additional career growth opportunities.”

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