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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) -- not the courts -- should handle complaints the Kroger Co.’s Colorado-based King Soopers division filed over a local labor union’s efforts to talk with members before a contract vote, say officials from the union representing the regional chain’s employees.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 made the comments in federal court documents filed earlier this week in response to King Soopers’ complaint, which asked a federal judge to block the alleged behavior that union representatives entered stores to talk to employees on the sales floor, disturbed customers and workers, and caused disturbances in acts of what the grocer called “hooliganism.” A hearing is scheduled to take place Thursday on the request.
According to court documents, UFCW Local 7 said King Soopers filed a similar complaint to the NLRB, which the union said has jurisdiction to handle the matter. The union further noted that King Soopers failed to show “irreparable harm” from union representatives’ actions and said an injunction would stifle union activities.
The dispute pertains to thousands of unionized King Soopers grocery workers in Colorado voting this week on a new five-year labor deal several weeks after their contract expired. Voting began Monday and ran through Wednesday for workers represented by UFCW Local 7, whose contracts with King Soopers’ division expired May 9. The chief sticking points of the deal pertain to raises, pension benefits and a two-tier system that offers fewer benefits to newer employees. The union wants all workers to receive the same pay and benefits.
In addition to Kroger’s King Soopers unit, UFCW Local 7 is also negotiating new contracts with Colorado workers at Safeway and Albertsons. King Soopers and Safeway have agreed that if workers at one chain strike, the other chain can lock out its workers. The grocers have also accepted applications for potential temporary workers in case of a strike or lockout. So far, no one has walked off the job, but talks are growing increasingly acrimonious.