February 27th, 2020
Attached is Kroger Houston’s initial set of contract proposals that we shared with the union today.
To review our complete proposal, go to www.krogerhoustoncba.com. You can download a copy of our proposal with explanations behind each of our changes.
As you know, we continue to operate in a highly competitive, difficult market. Our new contract will need to include changes to help Kroger and our associates be successful now and in the future.
It’s no secret, we have lost and continue to lose many good associates to competitors and other employers. One reason is likely the higher hourly pay rate that others may offer.
Kroger would like to offer pay rate increases as part of its financial package during our negotiations. However, many of our competitors and other employers hiring talented workers in the area simply do not have the same number of restrictions and inefficient practices that we currently have in place.
Addressing some of the restrictions and practices that other area employers do not have, will better position Kroger to offer pay rate increases to benefit our associates immediately. We think that our associates would prefer to see the company and union negotiate changes that will help them receive rate increases more in line with other employers. Our proposals are designed to make that happen.
Below are few of the tough changes we are proposing to meet our competitive challenges in this market.
Vacation for Part-Time Employees
- Kroger has provided a rich vacation benefit for part-time associates, giving them up to six weeks of vacation. We are aware of no other competitor in the area providing such a significant benefit for workers who, by being part-time, already have many opportunities for time off. Kroger believes that the costs of this benefit over time should be shifted toward our full-time associates.
- The company is proposing that part-time employees hired after June 28, 2020 will be eligible for 2 weeks of vacation under the same rules as regular employees. This still provides a good vacation benefit for part-time employees but includes a reasonable limitation of 2 weeks.
- This will not affect current part-time employees. Kroger is not proposing to take away their existing vacation benefits.
Changes to Scheduled Hours
- The current contract has an inefficient requirement that at least 50% of scheduled hours must be for 40-hour week schedules and 50% for part-time hours. This provision was agreed to in the 1980s. It doesn’t reflect the current nature of our business or the need for operational flexibility. It also doesn’t consider the reality that more and more talented and qualified associates may not want to work 40 hours a week.
- The company is proposing to modify this dated, inefficient requirement. Having more flexibility to schedule full-time and part-time associates helps us better meet today’s business challenges and realities. Note: Qualified full-time employees will still be given the daily and weekly schedule with the most hours by seniority.
- Under Kroger’s proposals, associates will continue to receive time and half pay for all hours worked in excess of the forty (40) hour workweek. However, the company is proposing to end the practice of paying overtime for hours worked in excess of a “workday.” Such daily overtime is very uncommon, including among our competitors and other employers.
- Note: The company will keep the requirement to pay time and a half pay for worked performed on the 7th day worked in a single workweek. Anyone who works seven straight days in a workweek would receive overtime on the 7th day, regardless of the total hours previously worked.
We look forward to working with the union on securing a new contract that will allow us to meet many of the challenges we face and to quickly move forward with a competitive package for our associates. Our next bargaining dates are March 12 and 13.
For informational purposes only. All bargaining and negotiations have and will be conducted through the UFCW Local 455 as your exclusive bargaining representative.
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