• Original Reporting
  • Sources Cited
Original Reporting This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). This includes directly interviewing sources and research / analysis of primary source documents.
Sources Cited As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution.
Grocery store worker pickets outside a King Soopers store after the union rejected the latest contract offer from the chain that is owned by Kroger, Co., Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Workers at Denver-area King Soopers grocery stores approved a new three-year contract on Monday that includes wage increases of more than $5 an hour for some employees, which the union called “the most significant wage increase ever secured by a United Food and Commercial Workers local for grocery workers.”

The contract also creates more full-time employment opportunities and more stringent workplace safety measures. Details of the contract were not shared by the UFCW Local 7, which led roughly 8,000 unionized grocery store employees on a nine-day strike that ended Friday.

“From the beginning of this process, we promised our members that we would procure the very best contract we could. We are excited that our members voted overwhelmingly to ratify this industry-leading contract that will ensure King Soopers will respect and protect essential workers as well as pay them fairly,” UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova said in a statement.

Union members at King Soopers stores in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and Northern Colorado will get their chance to vote on the same contract in the next week or so, union officials said. 

Workers at 77 stores from Boulder to Parker took to the picket lines on Jan. 12 and said they were on strike for a more livable wage. The last offer from King Soopers would provide some checkers with five years of experience a $3.10 increase over three years and boost their pay to $22.61 an hour by 2024. 

But the union pushed for more dollars with the rationale that these were workers who were considered essential at the start of the pandemic. Their jobs had changed as they had to deal with COVID infections, sick leave and the possibility of infecting their families, union leaders said. That won over public support and kept many customers from grocery shopping there during the strike.

While King Soopers management had offered its “last, best and final offer” a day before the strike, the company said in statement on Friday that after the strike ended, it was time for everyone “to come together again” and in anticipation of a busy weekend, it paid workers an extra $2 an hour on Saturday,Sunday and Monday.

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...