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Kroger Stores To Close Due To Striking Workers; 44 stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky
Associated Press ^ | 10-13-03

Posted on 10/13/2003 10:23:00 AM PDT by Brian S

Workers Vote To Strike Tuesday

POSTED: 12:16 p.m. EDT October 13, 2003 UPDATED: 12:21 p.m. EDT October 13, 2003

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Union workers at 44 Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky voted Monday to strike after rejecting the company's contract offer.

More than 2,000 members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 approved the strike Monday morning at a meeting in Charleston, more than the two-thirds majority required to authorize a strike, said Local 400 President Jim Lowthers.

The union represents about 3,300 workers for the Cincinnati-based chain in 37 stores in West Virginia, five in Ohio and two in Kentucky. The Ohio stores are in Belpre, Gallipolis, Marietta, Pomeroy and Proctorville.

A vote also was scheduled Monday afternoon in Clarksburg but those results would not change the outcome, Lowthers said.

"The proposal doesn't provide enough money to pay for our benefits. They ought to be providing for the families that helped earn that money," Lowthers said.

"We ain't asking for all of it, just a fair shake," said Randy Atkins, who works at a Kroger in Charleston. Atkins commutes 100 miles daily roundtrip from his home in Oak Hill to the store.

Union members planned to set up picket lines at 10 p.m. Monday.

Twenty stores normally close at midnight. A Kroger spokesman said the company planned to close all 44 stores at midnight Monday and keep them closed.

"Kroger will not operate those 44 stores for the duration of the work stoppage, although store pharmacies will remain open so the customers can have their prescriptions filled," said Archie Fralin, a spokesman for Kroger's mid-Atlantic region in Roanoke, Va.

In California, Kroger and its subsidiaries, Ralphs and Albertsons, along with Safeway Inc., Vons and Pavilions hired replacement workers to keep their stores open Sunday as about 70,000 striking grocery workers picketed outside. The companies want employees to pay a larger share of health care costs.

For workers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, Kroger proposed an 8 percent, or $9 million increase in what it pays into a health and welfare fund administered by a third party on behalf of the company and union.

An independent actuary determined the fund needs an additional $29 million, Lowthers said.

Union members would have to pay more for health care or suffer cuts in benefits under Kroger's proposal.

Pete Williams, president of Kroger's Mid-Atlantic region, wrote a letter to employees over the weekend saying the company offers generous benefits compared with nonunion grocers like Wal-Mart "who want our business and want your jobs."

After a strike, some stores may not reopen, Williams said.

The proposed contract included:

-- Hourly pay raises of 20-25 cents per hour this year and in 2005, along with lump-sum payments of $300-$500 in 2004 and 2006.

-- An increase in the number of full-time employees by 50 a year for four years, unless store closings or sales reductions make the plan unfeasible.

-- Rules about how the company must try to find new jobs for workers displaced by new technology, such as self-service check-out lanes.

Kroger made $542 million in profits through the end of August, down $27 million from 2002.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; US: Kentucky; US: Ohio; US: West Virginia
KEYWORDS: kroger; safeway; strike; unions

1 posted on 10/13/2003 10:23:05 AM PDT by Brian S
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To: Brian S
Hopefully Kroger's "U-Scan" will make these clerks obsolete soon.
2 posted on 10/13/2003 10:25:01 AM PDT by Guillermo ( Proud Infidel)
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Guillermo
I was just thinking that. I use those on every purchase except the big monthly fill-a-cart bonanza.
4 posted on 10/13/2003 10:27:00 AM PDT by Xenalyte (I may not agree with your bumper sticker, but I'll defend to the death your right to stick it)
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To: Brian S
Soon only gov't employees will be union members, as unionized companies are all broke.

When gov't employees want more, they can just arrest us if we won't pay, so it will be just fine, but the jails will be full.

5 posted on 10/13/2003 10:27:10 AM PDT by Voltage
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To: Brian S
Mal-mart
6 posted on 10/13/2003 10:27:34 AM PDT by getget
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To: All
Got a minute?
I'd really like you to rub my ears,
or help out FR.

7 posted on 10/13/2003 10:28:41 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Brian S
To paraphase Dirty Harry, "A (union) has got to know its limitations".
8 posted on 10/13/2003 10:28:56 AM PDT by Semper Paratus
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To: Brian S
The Walmart effect in living color.
9 posted on 10/13/2003 10:32:21 AM PDT by Weimdog
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To: Brian S
It seems Unions are just about as Clueless as you can get.

Wal-Mart is gaining share on Krogers every day and the Unions want to close them down?

Gee I wonder where all those Kroger shoppers will go now those stores are closed due to strikes?

Let's see Galipolis has a nice new SuperCenter; store I wonder if any of those former Kroger Customers will check it out?
10 posted on 10/13/2003 10:37:52 AM PDT by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: Brian S
$946.96 a month for health care?!? (Taking the 8 percent increase, that figures to roughly 112 million for 3,300 workers, assuming a 3 year contract..) And the fund will be short?

$20 million shortfall works out to be $168.35 a month per worker.

If they've got health care benefits that run $1115.31 a month, then they should be more than pleased to pay part of it. Bunch of whiners!
11 posted on 10/13/2003 10:42:57 AM PDT by kingu (Just helping...)
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To: Semper Paratus
I never fall below 33% off on my Kroger Card...last week with careful hunting, I got 52%. It is the last bastion of the Male Hunter.

At this tough time, I have to have little sympathy for the Union members and their harsh working conditions there in the grocery store. (That is probably why all the great folk songs were set in coal mines, where things were actually really bad and they really needed unions.) I have been in and out of jobs in a half-dozen fields in my life, and the working conditions and perks in Union jobs have generally been a lot better than I ever made. Good for them. In the good times, when the company is making a lot of money, the company can pay those kinds of payouts.

In bad times? The unions never stop. They seem to think that the company exists only to provide padded jobs for them. Well folks, the company exists to make money for its owners and/or stockholders. And if you push, really, really hard...your jobs will go someplace to some backwater third-world country, where they are happy to make enough to eat!

And the union's solution to jobs that stream to other countries? (Gotta love this!) Of course, you try to unionize the third world...so that the jobs can flee from there as well! Won't they be grateful to you!

12 posted on 10/13/2003 10:43:32 AM PDT by 50sDad ("There are FOUR LIGHTS! FOUR LIGHTS!")
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To: Guillermo
Hopefully? You want to see people put out of work? Its one thing to make an observation that new technology might cause them to lose their jobs, but "hopefully"?

keeping hoping people get put out of work, its the surest path to a Dean presidency. If Krogers doesn't pay these employees wages and health benefits, we will pay them through tax dollars for social programs they will be receiving.
13 posted on 10/13/2003 10:47:00 AM PDT by oceanview
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: kingu
If they've got health care benefits that run $1115.31 a month, then they should be more than pleased to pay part of it. Bunch of whiners!

In California, They're being asked to pay $5 per week for individual coverage and $15 per week for family coverage and they find that unacceptable. They've been getting full coverage at no additional cost for years. Every time the insurance rates go up, they are getting a RAISE in benefits but they don't seem to understand that concept.

15 posted on 10/13/2003 11:16:26 AM PDT by jess35
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To: Brian S
I had to belong to a retail union once. They were horrible so I quit the job the day my dues and membership were supposed to kick in. I did manage to start a war on the way out though. They had no union rep for the second shift employees. I mentioned something about taxation without representation and that one line is all it took. :) I probably would have been fired for that if I hadn't quit. The union had a rep available to second shift personell about two weeks after I started the whole rukus. :)
16 posted on 10/13/2003 11:29:49 AM PDT by zx2dragon (I could never again be an angel... Innocence, once lost, can never be regained.)
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To: Guillermo
Yes, or hopefully the Kroger's stores will stay closed, giving the union members exactly what they want. No work for your pay (although it will be my tax money in the future).
17 posted on 10/13/2003 11:42:38 AM PDT by 69ConvertibleFirebird (Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.)
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To: 69ConvertibleFirebird
If they close here in WV it's no great loss. Wal-Mart will take up the slack. Our local Kroger is going broke anyway. In fact most grocery stores in our area are the lonliest people around. Why would I shop at them when I can get more selection and better prices at Wal-Mart and at the same time keep my Wal-Mart stock growing? It is very hard for the grocery chains to compete with Wal-Mart. I know that WM is taking over the world, but how did they do it? Lower prices.
18 posted on 10/13/2003 1:14:00 PM PDT by WVNan
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To: oceanview
What about the people that develop, make, install and service the U-Scan devices? Those are better jobs than some $8/hr clerk.

Using your logic, any labor-saving device is bad because it would replace obsolete workers.

You would have whined when the automobile was invented, because it put the horse-and-buggy maker out of business.
19 posted on 10/13/2003 1:15:35 PM PDT by Guillermo ( Proud Infidel)
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To: Brian S
Problem:

The proposal doesn't provide enough money to pay for our benefits. They ought to be providing for the families that helped earn that money," Lowthers said.

Solution:

"Get another job.", Asformeandformyhouse said.

20 posted on 10/13/2003 1:16:56 PM PDT by asformeandformyhouse
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To: Guillermo
Great post. Unions are losers.
21 posted on 10/13/2003 1:19:38 PM PDT by ServesURight (FReecerely Yours,)
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To: jess35
In California, They're being asked to pay $5 per week for individual coverage and $15 per week for family coverage and they find that unacceptable. They've been getting full coverage at no additional cost for years. Every time the insurance rates go up, they are getting a RAISE in benefits but they don't seem to understand that concept.

Many of us who are self-employed have NO Health Insurance at all. They have good benefits, decent pay, and they don't seem to get the concept that the employeR provides the job.....NOT THE UNION!!!!
I worked for Kroger right out of high school, and I learned alot there. I always thought highly of them.
22 posted on 10/13/2003 1:24:21 PM PDT by ridesthemiles (ridesthemiles)
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To: Brian S
Go Union!

(signed) Happy Wal-Mart shareholder.
23 posted on 10/13/2003 1:27:03 PM PDT by aculeus
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To: kingu
"If they've got health care benefits that run $1115.31 a month, then they should be more than pleased to pay part of it. Bunch of whiners!"

___________________________________________________________

What happened to "no" inflation?

As for your bunch of whiners statement, I wish you could get are Nobel Senators and Government workers to pay part of their benefits then I could agree with your statement.

I don't like food centers closing or people losing their jobs because of health care increases.

Welcome to total human migration from the 3rd world to the 1st world brought to you illegally by are Corporations, which will pay stockholders a higher dividend for their silence with Wal "Red Star" Mart will hire all the 3rd world humans arriving across the borders you can smuggle in.

__________________________________________________________ Someboby asked about the stock market, so my 2 cents guess.

The VIX is at an amazing 17.55 low, with BTM-UBSW Chain Store Sales & Redbook reports before the AM open and with Double Witching on the 17th plus other reports coming in, this could be a choppy week.

I'm looking for a down week because of Double Witching stock balancing, however were at new yearly highs so this is a very tricky.

Too much to soon, will see.

KR is very close to a short by the way. Tough call here because KR is closing in on a gap of 21.20 from 6-11-2002. KR has a $19.70 high for the year and has had a nice rally however looks a bit over bought. If the gap is closed and held, were going to test $25.

KR had 5 large blocks bought at the close with union news at the 4:11, I'm looking to sell/short the news at the close at $19.26 for a gap down in the morning. If I'm wrong, I'll just close the short and go long.

KR's 44 stores closing is a loss of revenue but out of 2,488 supermarkets you could call this trimming some fat so some stock holders may like the news, will see.

OFFICERS

Top 4 employees salary:

Joseph Pichler, 63 Chairman $ 3.93M
David Dillon, 52 CEO, Director $ 1.90M
Don McGeorge, 48 Pres, COO, Director $ 1.65M
W. Rodney McMullen, 42 Vice Chairman $ 3.76M

11.24 million for 4 employees and bonus
checks are not included.

This is a nice club to be in.

KR Yahoo

24 posted on 10/13/2003 3:40:06 PM PDT by Major_Risktaker
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To: WVNan
We just got back from a long weekend in Chicago, and I need to replenish our basic grocery needs. Normally, I'd drive 7 miles to get to Kroger, the only grocery store in the area. If it's unavailable, due to nincompoop striking workers, I'll have to drive a few more miles to the "more-for-less" or whatever it's called (the Wal-Mart grocery is several more miles away, across the river).

Ah, the joys of small town living!

25 posted on 10/13/2003 5:49:20 PM PDT by mountaineer
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To: mountaineer
Heard on tv this evening that all the Krogers in WV may be closing, can anyone confirm this?
26 posted on 11/25/2003 5:19:31 PM PST by Armedanddangerous (The first rule in a gunfight is to have a gun, more than one, if possible...)
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To: Armedanddangerous
I haven't heard this. The strike thus far hasn't affected most of WV - certainly not in our area - but I'll see what I can find out.
27 posted on 11/25/2003 6:47:49 PM PST by mountaineer
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