Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. union members in central Ohio on Friday reportedly rejected the grocery retailer’s most-recent contract offer, prompting workers to authorize a strike.
Local media and social media reported that members of Kroger union IFCW 1059 voted to strike, saying that a total of 12,500 workers at 82 stores could potentially walk off the job.
UFCW Local 1059 represents Kroger union members across Central Ohio.
“For a 3rd time local Kroger UFCW 1059 members have rejected their 3-year contract,” the Columbus Free Press tweeted on Friday morning.
In comments to local TV station NBC 4, Amy McCormick, corporate affairs manager for the Columbus division of Kroger, said: “It’s business as usual at Kroger. A strike authorization doesn’t mean a strike.” McCormick told NBC 4 that Kroger “was ‘disappointed’ in the outcome of the vote.”
Kroger did not immediately return a WGB request to comment on the strike vote.
Union members rejected the three-year contract offer with 55% of its membership saying no, the Columbus Free Press reported. Voting took place Tuesday through Thursday, according to local reports.
Across the country, grocery workers were deemed essential during the pandemic's earliest days. Now, a growing unionization movement is spreading at food retailers, restaurants and other industries.
Last week, workers at a New Seasons Market in Portland, Oregon, voted to unionize, becoming the first in the 19-unit chain to do so.
Last month, workers at a Minneapolis Trader Joe’s became the retailer’s second unionized store, following a market in Hadley, Massachusetts, that voted to unionize in July. More Trader Joe’s stores are reportedly planning to do the same.
Coffee giant Starbucks has led the way in the current labor movement. The Seattle-based chain now has more than 200 unionized locations.
Kroger operates nearly 2,800 stores in 35 states under 28 different banners.