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King Soopers files lawsuit against labor union as strike is set to begin Wednesday

KRDO

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo (KRDO)-- Negotiations have broken down between the United Food and Commerical Workers Union Local 7 and King Soopers, the largest grocery chain in the state of Colorado. Now, workers in the Denver Metro area are set to picket outside of King Soopers stores at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

A strike date has not been announced yet for Colorado Springs stores. Union President Kim Cordova said that once the strikes are underway at stores in the Denver metro area, they will then move on to stores in Colorado Springs.

On Monday, King Soopers filed a lawsuit against UFCW with the National Labor Board. In the suit, King Soopers accuses the UFCW Local 7 of refusing to bargain in good faith, delaying meaningful discussions, and engaging in a pattern of conduct designed to frustrate and prevent the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement.

UFCW has previously filed a lawsuit against King Soopers citing unfair labor practices.

Hours after the store announced its suit, Cordova and members of UFCW Local 7 gathered for a press conference at its headquarters in Wheat Ridge.

"We're about a day and a half away from engaging in the largest labor dispute regarding grocery workers since 1996," Cordova said Monday.

Union members went on strike against King Soopers for 42 days in 1996.

Cordova says the union is looking for better safety and wages for workers, as well as hiring more full-time employees instead of part-time, and accuses the store of using third-party workers instead of King Soopers employees. She says that is hurting employee pensions.

In King Soopers' lawsuit, the company claims the union refuses to use a federal mediator, which Cordova confirmed Monday. She believes a mediator would "bog down" the negotiating process.

Cordova said UFCW Local 7 doesn't want to continue to work with out-of-state lawyers hired by the company. She said the union is willing to get back at the negotiation table if it is with local decision-makers with King Soopers.

"These out-of-state representatives are not in touch with what is going on, the climate that our workers are working in, the high cost of living and housing in Colorado," she said.

In the suit, King Soopers claims it has tried to meet and negotiate, but the union has refused to schedule any meetings. The company states UFCW Local 7 has refused to meet and negotiate since the morning of January 6, even after numerous requests by King Soopers to engage in bargaining.

Meanwhile, Cordova believes it's time for the company to up its offers, and realize the sacrifices workers made during the pandemic.

"While businesses and restaurants were closed, those companies were thriving, but our workers didn't thrive. Do you know what our workers got? COVID, attacked, beat up, spit on, slapped on, overworked. And the company? They did great. They did absolutely great sitting behind their desk, doing their job by Zoom," Cordova said.

Cordova reiterated Monday that the union is not willing to meet with King Soopers until it is given data they've requested that could influence health care and pension proposals. It's unclear what that data includes.

"There's a lot of information we need for our safety proposals," Cordova said. "We're willing to go back to the table and meet with the company. But for us to move forward, we need the company to provide critical and necessary information that we need, so that we can move forward on our proposals."

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.

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