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Justin Presser, a King Soopers employee since 2006, strikes on Wednesday in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 said Friday morning that it has reached a tentative three-year labor agreement with King Soopers, ending a strike that began more than a week ago.

The union said the deal will provide the wages and protections deserved by workers, who were considered essential during the pandemic. The strike ended immediately. More than 8,000 workers walked out on Jan. 12.

“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,” Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said in a written statement. “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.”

Details of the contract were not shared. Union members are expected to vote to approve the deal on Monday.

King Soopers confirmed the tentative deal.

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

The strike lasted nine days and grew more heated as King Soopers obtained a temporary restraining order after disruptions at some stores. The union called the charges unfounded but did share rules with picketers on how to maintain a peaceful strike.

King Soopers officials offered its “last, best and final offer” a day before union members went on strike. It proposed raising wages about $3.10 over three years for those with five years of experience. A full-time checker with five years experience, currently making $19.51 an hour, would get a $1.50 raise this year to $21.01. By 2024, the same checker’s wage would increase to $22.61. The starting hourly wage was $16, or 13 cents more than Denver’s current minimum wage of $15.87.

The union, meanwhile, also has the lowest starting wage at $16 an hour, according to its last public proposal. Most clerk positions would start at $18.56 this year and ratchet up to between $21.56 and $26.20 per hour by 2024, depending on experience. 

But union leaders said the negotiations were also about improved health benefits and personal safety for workers who at times had to handle disrespectful customers.

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

The specifics of the contract are expected to be made public after it is approved by members, according to the union.

More on King Soopers strike

Tamara Chuang writes about Colorado business and the local economy for The Colorado Sun, which she cofounded in 2018 with a mission to make sure quality local journalism is a sustainable business. Her focus on the economy during the pandemic...