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Union member workers from King Soopers went on strike Jan. 12 many King Soopers in the Denver area.  (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Denver Gazette)

Members of metro Denver area United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 voted Monday to approve a new three-year contract offered by Kroger Co., who owns all King Soopers and City Market stores in Colorado, according to a late Monday news release.

The agreement includes wage hikes of up to $5 per hour for some employees, and "contains the most significant wage increase ever secured by a UFCW local for grocery workers." 

Kings Soopers officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday night. In a news release sent late Monday, King Soopers and City Market President Joey Kelley said the chain's "goal since day one has been to put more money in our associates' paychecks, and we are thrilled that our associates in the Denver metro bargaining area have voted yes on this offer."

Other contract highlights include "better healthcare and protected pension benefits," "more stringent safety measures" and "new paths to full-time employment opportunities."

The new contract only applies to the more than 8,400 union member workers at 78 metro Denver area stores. The contract will be presented to union members for ratification in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Grand Junction and Northern Colorado over the next week, according to the news release.

“From the beginning of this process, we promised our members that we would procure the very best contract we could," said President Kim Cordova in the news release. "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.

Members approved the at-the-time tentative deal that Friday sent workers off the picket lines and back to work. The strike that started Jan. 12 is officially over, at least for metro Denver area stores.

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Local 7 members’ contracts for those Denver-area stores expired Jan. 8 after they overwhelmingly voted to strike prior to that.

Workers demanded better pay and work conditions. The union sued the supermarket giant in federal court, alleging King Soopers violated its contract by paying third-party contractors higher rates to stock shelves. King Soopers denied the allegations and said it was disappointed Local 7 went to court. It was not clear Monday night if that lawsuit would now be dropped. 

Union representatives have asked for security guards since 2018 . Other issues centered on health care, full-time jobs and seniority.

The company’s “last, best and final” offer from Kroger included $170 million in wage increases over the next three years, and “ratification bonuses” for all employees. The one signed Monday was obviously more lucrative, but no further details were presented. The offer before the "last, best, final" one was $148 million over the next three years.

“This would not have been possible without the support of our allies throughout Colorado and across the country," Cordova said. "To those who stood alongside our members, honored the picket line, and showed up in solidarity, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

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