Monday, May 06, 2002

Kroger, union reach tentative agreement

The Associated Press

        FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Kroger Co. and the union that represents more than 2,000 of its workers in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Decatur, Ill., have reached tentative contract agreements.

        The three agreements with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700, were reached hours before a midnight deadline Saturday. They are scheduled to be put to a ratification vote by Tuesday.

        Union and company officials declined to discuss specifics of the agreements, except to say that the agreements include wage increases.

        Cincinnati-based Kroger is a Fortune 500 company with fiscal 2001 sales of about $50.1 billion. The company is ranked No. 1 in its industry, according to Fortune magazine.

        Kroger has nine stores in northeast Indiana.

        The two sides had been battling over health plan contributions until the company took the issue off the table Saturday morning.

        Kroger had wanted union employees to begin making monthly contributions to the health plan, which company officials said was necessary for Kroger to remain competitive.

        Kroger spokesman Jeff Golc, though, said other issues in the agreements allowed Kroger to remain competitive without demanding that workers pay into the health plan.

        “We think the negotiations were successful,” union spokesman Rian Wathen said. “We believe the employees will be pleased that this is a package that not only preserves that health insurance but additionally offers them wage increases and addresses some other outstanding issues that we had on the table.”


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