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Negotiations were expected to continue Thursday between the Kroger Co. and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 876 after the Cincinnati-based grocer’s contract with the local expired at midnight for 12,000 workers at 118 stores in Michigan.
Kroger’s proposals to the union, according to Local 876, include defunding a trust account that pays for worker’s health insurance benefits, which would leave the fund with a significant shortage. The local said such proposals resulted in stalled contract talks.
Voice and e-mail messages to Kroger corporate communications were not answered by presstime.
“The union is not looking to strike, or put Kroger out of business,” said Roger Robinson, president and chief negotiator for the union. “The hard-working members of Local 876 simply want a fair contract from a company that is doing very well and making a profit in Michigan.”
According to the union, Kroger’s latest proposal includes no hourly wage increases, changes how workers earn raises and benefits, and eliminates health and welfare benefits for many current and future part-time employees. The local’s board and the union’s Kroger Advisory Committee have authorized the union to take any action, up to and including a strike, to secure a contract.
UFCW Local 876 represents more than 17,000 workers in eastern and northern Michigan including employees at Kroger, other retailers and numerous commercial work sites.