Why Workers At This Kroger-Owned Supermarket Chain Went On Strike

While customers may now be focused on grocery stores' empty shelves, some supermarket chains have a bigger problem than a low selection in the cereal aisle. One of these is the Kroger-owned grocery chain, King Soopers, where workers at dozens of Colorado locations are currently on a three-week strike, Reuters reports. Their strike began after the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 union rejected King Soopers' updated contract offer for employees, per CBS Denver. The union is advocating for "better safety precautions, higher wages, and affordable health care for employees." The affected locations have remained open and, to make up for low staffing, hired temporary workers and promoted online ordering.

Response to the strike has been swift. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted, "I stand with Kroger workers in their fight for a fair contract." Just as the pandemic has made supply chain, stagflation, and other economic terms more familiar to consumers, it has also promoted conversation about a viable working wage. After being heralded as "heroes" for their service during the pandemic, many grocery store union members are looking for better compensation for their work.

Many unionized grocery workers have gone on strike in the last year

While COVID-19 has brought many issues to the forefront, the discussion around fair wages and worker satisfaction has been especially prevalent. From this current King Soopers strike to last year's extensively covered Kellogg's strike, these cases are just two of many situations in which union members have advocated for workers. According to Eater, for example, unionized employees of the Oregon-based Fred Meyer and QFC grocery chains went on strike last year in opposition to stagnate wages and a lack of hazard pay for more than one year.

These strikes can prove difficult for workers but sometimes get them positive results. When Kellogg's employees ended their 11-week strike, NPR reported that Kellogg's made a statement describing its new employee contract as having "immediate, across-the-board wage increases and enhanced benefits for all." As for the immediate effects of the King Soopers strike, experts told Reuters that the stores will likely see problems with low inventory in the coming weeks.