By Sara B. Hansen / NewsBreak Denver
(Denver, Colo.) King Soopers plans to keep its stores in the metro Denver area open despite a strike by grocery store workers.
The strike, which is expected to last three weeks, started early Wednesday morning, a day after United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 rejected King Soopers' latest contract offer.
Unfair labor practices
Both sides accuse the other of unfair labor practices.
In late December, the union filed a federal lawsuit against King Soopers, accusing the company of unfair labor practices.
King Soopers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board Tuesday accusing the union of the same thing, the Denver Post reports.
"Local 7 is putting politics before people and preventing us from putting more money in our associates' pockets," said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market, in a news release.
But the union says King Soopers experiences record profits while paying workers low wages.
"Grocery workers ensure that our communities have access to food, but they cannot even afford to feed their own families," said Kim Cordova, President of UFCW Local 7 and Vice President of UFCW International, which represents approximately 17,000 workers, in a statement.
"King Soopers has chosen to enrich its bottom line instead of protecting workers who have risked their lives on the front lines."
The union wants King Soopers to pay higher wages, protect workers from crime, including store robberies, and provide stronger health protections as the pandemic continues and more sick time.
If workers ratify the contract, the company offers $170 million in wage increases and bonuses for all employees.
Workers plan to strike until Feb. 2.
Stores remain open
In the meantime, King Soopers is advertising for temporary workers and plans to keep its stores open.
Kelley said Cordova is keeping union members from voting on the company's offer.
"It's time for Kim Cordova to put our associates, her members, first instead of denying them the opportunity to vote on this unprecedented investment," Kelley said.
"Creating more disruption for our associates, their families, and Coloradans rather than negotiating for a peaceful resolution is irresponsible and undemocratic."