Sunday, October 10, 1999

Kroger extends strike deadline


Contract negotiations continue

BY LUCY MAY and WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Kroger Co. and the union representing 8,500 of its Greater Cincinnati workers extended a midnight strike deadline as talks inched forward Saturday.

        Employees represented by the union were to report to their jobs today.

        John Marrone, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1099, said talks were continuing on “a meeting-to-meeting basis” and members immediately would be informed of any change in the situation.

        “Although there has been movement,” said Lennie Wyatt, president of the local, “we still have a long way to go before reaching an agreement. Nevertheless, the company appears to be on the right track in these negotiations.”

        Meanwhile, Kroger Co. workers from an eastern Ohio River Valley local said Saturday night they would go on strike against the nation's largest grocery store chain, as talks failed before a midnight deadline.

        The Associated Press reported union members were told to meet today at the Charleston, W.Va., Municipal Auditorium to discuss setting up picket lines.

        That union, Local 347, represents about 4,600 workers at stores in eastern Ohio, West Virginia and eastern Kentucky.

        Local 1099, which represents workers at Kroger stores in southeastern Indiana, Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati area, said its members would continue working.

        Mr. Marrone said talks were continuing overnight and would be held today, if necessary.

        A federal mediator brought the two sides together Saturday morning to resume negotiations after talks broke down Friday night without reaching a deal.

        The union represents cashiers, baggers, clerks and workers in various food departments at 67 Cincinnati-area Kroger stores.

        The employees represented by the union earn from about $5.25 an hour to about $16 an hour, Mr. Marrone said.

        The union last week reject ed a Kroger proposal that, over a five-year period, would have provided pay increases of $1.50 an hour for department heads, $1.20 an hour for assistants and $1 an hour for most other workers with more than five years of experience, a union spokesman said.

        The union wanted an agreement with total pay raises over four years of $2.40 an hour for department heads, $2.20 an hour for assistants and $2 an hour for most other workers.

        Union members voted overwhelmingly to strike last week after rejecting the Kroger offer. The current five-year contract expired at midnight.

        Company spokesman Steve Jagers declined to comment Saturday on what Kroger would do in the event of a strike here.

       



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