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Kroger employees' union votes to authorize strike

Kroger store
Matthew Rand
/
WOSU
Kroger store on Chambers Rd. in Grandview, Ohio.

Kroger says its employees' union has voted to authorize a strike after members rejected a new labor deal this week.

In a statement, a spokesperson from the Cincinnati-based grocery store chain called the vote "disappointing" after both the company and union leaders urged members to approve the new deal.

This was the third tentative agreement recommended by bargaining committees on both sides, Kroger said.

The union, UFCW Local 1059, represents 12,500 members in the central Ohio region. About half of those voted over three days from September 13 through 15.

Union president Randy Quickel said in a statement the ratification vote was turned down 45% to 55%. Membership authorized a strike by 81%.

A 2/3 vote of the voting members is required for strike authorization, Quickel said.

Members have been asked to continue to work.

Quickel said they've asked Kroger to return to the bargaining table to address member concerns, though it remains unclear what sticking points remain.

The full statement from Kroger reads as follows:

"UFCW Local 1059 has informed us that its members voted down the fully recommended tentative agreement this week.  We understand the union also received strike authorization.  We are disappointed in the outcome of the vote. This was the third tentative agreement fully recommended for ratification by both the union and company bargaining committees.

It’s business as usual at Kroger. A strike authorization doesn’t mean a strike. Associates should continue to report to work as scheduled.

The Fully Recommended Agreement on our Last Best and Final offer showed our commitment to the whole person, providing wage increases, high-quality, affordable health care, and a pension benefit for retirement.

The most productive thing the union can do is to work with the company in a manner that positively addresses these items. Our focus remains on our associates and reaching an agreement that is good for all parties."

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Matthew Rand is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides with Ann Fisher.