Every Vote Counts – Including Yours!

With the upcoming elections, voting is on everyone’s mind. We respect your right to participate in the democratic process by voting, and we believe your union likely does as well.  We hope that Local 455 also supports the democratic process when it comes to allowing you to have a voice and decide whether our Last, Best and Final Offer is a good offer for you and your family.

If Local 455 does not allow you to vote on our most recent offer, a fair question is why doesn’t your union want you voting on our Last, Best and Final Offer?

The offer we have provided to Local 455 affirms our commitment in our associates:

  • Stable and secure health care benefits by moving to a company-administered plan
  • Providing wage increases for all associates, and more.

Despite the clear benefits for associates, Local 455 has refused to allow members like you the opportunity to vote on this deal.

Further, to recognize and reward your efforts and commitment to our customers and as an incentive, Kroger has extended the availability of a Ratification Bonus, ranging from $300-600 depending on position, if the offer is ratified on or before October 17, 2020.

This is a good deal – for you and for the company. The company is investing in you and your future. Don’t just take our word for it, here is what the experts have to say:

  • Kroger has proposed a significant reform to the healthcare plan offered to its employees: moving from a health and welfare trust fund plan to a company-administered plan. This may sound like a nothing burger, but in fact, strikes at the heart of affordable healthcare benefits that are reliable for families… Think about it – would you rather have your family’s healthcare benefits backed by a Fortune 25 company, or a health and welfare trust fund with a lengthy history of mismanagement, zero transparency, and a lack of accountability? – Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., Resident Scholar, Institute for Policy Innovation
  • From being one of the first companies to reward its associates with “Hero Pay” and bonuses, access to mental health services, to establishing free drive-thru COVID testing locations throughout the Houston community, to installing glass partitions, enhanced cleaning and enforcing social distancing policies early on – it is clear we need more strong corporate citizens like Kroger to step up to the challenge and be part of the solution. – Former Houston Congressman Gene Green

You can download and review our Last, Best and Final Offer for Clerks and Meat or ask your store leader for a copy.

Company Moves Forward with Wage Increases and Health Care in Company-Administered Plan

We truly appreciate your continued focus on your job and our customers.

As you know, your union has not allowed you to vote on the company’s offer. We have heard from many of you that you want the opportunity to vote on our Last, Best and Final Offer, and are frustrated that the union is not responding to your calls and messages to give you the opportunity to vote.

We hear your frustration. We believe our associates deserve better and that it’s time for you to receive the wage increases and other benefits outlined in our offer.

Earlier today, we informed the union that, based on a bargaining impasse – deadlock, we are moving forward with implementing our Last, Best, and Final Offer. You will initially see this through wage increases and a move to a company-administered health care plan for associates, the details of which were included in our Last, Best and Final Offer to the union.

Wage Increases

Wage increases for top-rate associates and department heads, covered by the Local 455 contract, will be effective for hours worked beginning October 4, 2020. In addition, the following associates will begin earning the proposed premium increases, effective for hours worked beginning October 4, 2020:

  • Night crew for hours worked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Floral, Dairy, Back Door Receiving and E-commerce Leads
  • Assistant Department Heads

Associates will continue to progress in their current wage progression until February 7, 2021, at which point all associates will move to the new wage schedule as outlined in the Last, Best, and Final Offer. Your store manager has a wage sheet that describes the wage increases.

Health Care

In the coming weeks, we will also provide you with more information on health care benefits through a company-administered plan, which will be effective January 1, 2021. Until January 1, your health care benefit will remain unchanged.  You’ll be receiving information on the open enrollment process in early to mid-October.

Your store manager has a flyer that has details of health care coverage for 2021. As we have stated many times, our proposed health care benefits are guaranteed through the life of the contract and that still stands today with our implementation of the company-administered plan.

We hope you’ll agree that these initial changes of improving your wages and guaranteeing secure, reliable and affordable health care is great news for you and your family!

If you have questions, you can review these FAQs on what this decision means for you or you can ask your store leader.

Company and Union Remain Deadlocked on Health Care

Thank you for your patience during the negotiation process.

During our sessions this week, union bargaining committee members had the opportunity to discuss their concerns, including those with moving away from the South-Central Fund for health care benefits. Company representatives appreciated the dialogue and restated the reasons the company remains firm with our proposed company-administered plan. Even with these candid conversations, unfortunately, we did not make any progress toward breaking the deadlock on health care.

Our Last, Best and Final Offer Remains on the Table

Our Last, Best and Final Offer is a solid offer – so much so that your union appears afraid to give you the opportunity to vote on it. It includes:

  • Wage Increases Hourly rate increases over the life of the contract ranging from $.90 to $2.45 per hour – more than you’ve ever received during the life a contract
  • Stable and Affordable Benefits Provides predictable, secure and reliable health care benefits for associates through a company-administered plan that leverages the power of 100,000+ Kroger associates and family members. The benefits provided in our proposal are guaranteed for the life of the agreement.
  • Personal Holidays Associates will accumulate personal holidays more quickly
  • Minimum Hours Guarantee Increases the minimum hours guarantee from 15 hours to 18 hours per week
  • Night Shift Premium Improves wage premiums for all work performed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for all regularly scheduled night crew associates

It’s unfortunate that Local 455 has not allowed you to vote on the company’s Last, Best and Final Offer. The deadline to vote and ratify the contract and receive the previously described ratification bonus is September 4.

We hope the union reconsiders our offer and allows you to vote. Please get all the facts, talk with your family and friends, attend the meeting for your bargaining unit, and vote if you get the chance. We encourage you to review and download our Last, Best and Final Offer.

Thank You and Company Update

The last few weeks have been tough especially for our Kroger family in Louisiana and southeast Texas. We know many of you are still recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura. Thank you for all your efforts to serve our customers and help our affected associates and communities. The entire division team is here to continue to support you and our neighbors in need.

Negotiations Update: The company has agreed to meet with the union on September 2-3. We have always said we are willing to listen your union and we have a legal duty to bargain with Local 455.

Our Last, Best and Final Offer was presented to the union in an effort to break the deadlock and hopefully that will occur during our negotiations over the next couple of days by the union agreeing to a company administered health plan.  We believe our Last, Best and Final Offer is a solid offer. It puts more money in your pocket with wage increases and provides secure, reliable, affordable health care with a company-administered plan through April 8, 2023. It also includes:

  • One-time ratification bonus for Department Heads and Full-time/Part-time Top-Rate associates – if the offer is ratified on or before Sept. 4
  • Ability to accumulate personal holidays more quickly
  • Minimum hours guarantee increase to 18 hours
  • Night Shift Premium increase for regularly scheduled night crew associates for hours worked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

We do not know whether the union will allow you to vote on our offer. If you want to vote, speak with your union representative. You can download and review our Last, Best and Final Offer.

Kroger Houston Provides Last, Best and Final Offer

After 26 days of negotiations, the company and union are deadlocked. Healthcare has completely frustrated and stalled negotiations and meaningful discussions for the terms of a new contract.

In a final effort to break the deadlock, Kroger Houston provided the union a Last, Best and Final Offer to settle for the Clerks Contract and Meat Contract on August 19 and asked that you be allowed to vote on this offer.

With this offer, Kroger has put everything material on the table: wages, health care, pension, and other benefits. This offer includes:

  • One-Time Ratification Bonus If the offer is ratified on or before September 4, 2020 lump sum bonuses will paid as follows:
    • $600 – Department Heads
    • $500 – Full-Time Top Rate Associates
    • $300 – Part-Time Top Rate Associates
  • Wage Increases Hourly rate increases over the life of the contract ranging from $.90 to $2.45 per hour
  • Stable and Affordable Benefits Provides predictable, secure and reliable health care benefits for associates through a company-administered plan already covering over 100,000 Kroger associates and their families
  • Personal Holidays Associates will accumulate personal holidays more quickly
  • Minimum Hours Guarantee Increases the minimum hours guarantee from 15 hours to 18 hours
  • Night Shift Premium Improves wage premiums for all work performed between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for all regularly scheduled night crew associates

We hope the union gives you the opportunity to vote on this offer. If you want to vote, speak with your union representative.

You can download and review our Last, Best and Final Offer and updated wage sheets. Thank you for all that you are doing to take care of your customers and each other.

Company Remains Committed to Providing Secure, Affordable Healthcare

As you know, the company provided a Comprehensive Best Offer to the union. Our offer is a very good offer. Our proposal:

  • Increases wages for all associates
  • Provides secure, affordable health care benefits
  • Stabilizes pension benefits

You can download and review our entire proposal, including wage sheets by classification.

Here are a few things you should know about last week’s bargaining sessions:

  • Local 455 has communicated that our proposed company-administered plan stands in the way of reaching an agreement.
  • The union’s health care proposal calls for significant changes to your costs and coverage all while keeping your benefits tied to the unstable South-Central Fund.
  • To address the union’s concern of no longer having a voice with your health care, we added language in our Comprehensive Best Offer that union and company representatives would meet quarterly to discuss and address concerns. And, as always, the union would continue to bargain your benefits in future negotiations. You would still have a voice!
  • We are very disappointed that the union has offered no other solutions to ensure that your health care benefits are secure, stable and affordable through the life of the contract. Why is the union so determined to keep your benefits in the South-Central Fund?

We have scheduled more meeting dates for Aug. 18-19.  We firmly believe that our Comprehensive Best Offer is a good offer for you and your family. We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement that provides you with pay increases, keeps your benefits affordable and stabilizes your pension.

If you have any questions, please talk to your store leader or email askhouston@kroger.com. Thank you for all that you are doing to take care of your customers and each other.

Company Provides Comprehensive Best Offer

In a show of good faith bargaining and to address Local 455’s concerns on several of our proposals, the company withdrew our meat contract merger and orientation proposals this week. We have also incorporated several union counter proposals into what we are calling a Comprehensive Best Offer to Settle for the Clerks Contract and Meat Contract, which means this is our best offer for both contracts.

Our Comprehensive Best Offer to Settle for the Clerks Contract and Meat Contract improves on our previous offer by doing the following:

  • $.40 wage increase per hour per year of the contract for all FT and PT Top-Rate Associates
  • $.50 wage increase per hour per year of the contract for all Department Heads
  • Lowers associate contribution rates for health care coverage by $1 or $2, depending on coverage tier

We care about you and your family, and we hope you will agree that our Comprehensive Best Offer and your significant mid-contract wage increase last October shows our commitment and investment in you. Here are some examples of our wage investments, looking at the current wage scales, the mid-contract October 2019 increase, contractual increases in April and October 2020, and our proposed wage scales for your new contract. It’s important to note: No matter where you are at on the wage scale you would see an increase with our proposal. Our wage sheets show increases by classification.

Clerk and Meat Clerk Current Contract Mid-Contract Increase Oct. 2019 Proposed Increase

 

Total Increase in 16 Months
Entry Level $8.25 $10.00 $11.00 (Feb. 2021) $2.75
Mid-Level $9.50 $10.60 $12.00 (Feb. 2021) $2.50
FT Top-Rate

PT Top-Rate

$14.75

$11.65

$15.25

$12.15

$15.65 (upon ratification)

$12.55 (upon ratification)

$.90

$.90

Dept Head

Tier 2

$19.30 $19.80 $20.30 (upon ratification) $1.00

*Proposed annual increases for Clerks and Meat Clerks would occur in February of each year of the contract. Proposed annual increases for FT and PT Top-Rate Associates and Dept Heads would occur in August each year of the contract.

If you have questions, please talk to your store leader or email askhouston@kroger.com.

Company and Union Agree: Benefit Changes Are Necessary

Today, UFCW Local 455 provided a counter proposal on health care benefits to the company. The union’s proposal includes higher associate contribution rates, deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, and increases hours eligibility requirements – all while keeping your benefits tied to the unstable South-Central Fund. Don’t take our word for it. You can view the union’s health care proposal.

Both parties agree that health care changes are needed. One significant difference between our two proposals is who administers your benefits.

  • Even with the union’s proposed benefit changes, can the UFCW guarantee that the South-Central Fund will not cut your benefits during the life of the contract?
  • Why is the UFCW so determined to keep your benefits in the unstable South-Central Fund?

The Company proposal attempts to use one of Kroger’s most significant competitive advantages – our overall size – and leverage that to the advantage of our associates. The Union’s proposal ignores that advantage by insisting that we provide health care through the smaller South-Central Fund.

Click here for a side by side comparison of your current South-Central Plans and the union’s proposed changes to the South-Central Plans.

Company Provides Comprehensive Offer to Union that Increases Wages and Secures Health Care and Pension Benefits

Today, Kroger presented a Comprehensive Offer to UFCW Local 455. It is a good offer and does the following:

  • Improves wages for all associates – this increase is in addition to the wage increase you received in October 2019
  • Secures and stabilizes health care for you and your family
  • Stabilizes the current pension fund
  • Allows you to accumulate personal holidays quicker
  • Increases minimum hours guarantee to 18 hours per week
  • Improves your ability to maximize hours

We have more bargaining dates scheduled for August 11-12.

Our Comprehensive Offer, including new wage scales, is available for you to download and review.  You can also view our proposed wage increases based on your position. These wage sheets explain what our proposed increases mean for you and your family.

You can go to the www.krogerhoustoncba.com for updates on the negotiation process. If you have any questions, please talk to your store leader or email askhouston@kroger.com.

Thanks for all you do for your customers, communities and each other. Stay safe and be well.

Company Health Care Proposal Guarantees Quality Coverage and Managed Costs for the Life of the Contract

New Plan Improves Coverage for South-Central Fund Participants

You have told us you want to be able to count on stable health care benefits for you and your family. You want to be able to go to the doctor and seek affordable medical care when you need it.

Kroger has heard you loud and clear. Our proposed plan guarantees benefits and coverage for Kroger associates and their families for the life of the contract. History has shown that the South-Central Health & Welfare Fund cannot make this guarantee (or be trusted).

Our proposal also provides benefit improvements for associates covered under the current South-Central Fund Plan B and Plan C. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of those improvements.

Company-Administered Plan South-Central Health & Welfare Fund
Coinsurance 80%/20% Plan B: 75%/25%

Plan C: 70%/30%

Spouse Coverage available No coverage under Plans B & C
Eligibility Simplifies eligibility

·         24 hours for single

·         30 hours for child(ren)

·         34 hours for spouse

Eligibility is complicated

·         New hires are only eligible for Plan C

·         Minimum three years of service and minimum hours before becoming eligible for Plan B

Whether you’re enrolled in Plan A, B or C in the South-Central Fund, our proposed plan provides stability and security for your benefits – you will NOT experience benefit cuts or changes during the life of the contract.

Although you may pay a few dollars more in your weekly contributions, our proposed plan guarantees your benefits are secure and not at risk. Get the facts on our entire health care proposal at www.krogerhoustoncba.com.

At the end of the day, this is not Kroger’s plan, not a South-Central Plan but your plan – that you can count on for you and your family. And as always, all future health care benefits and contributions would be negotiated with the union. You would still have a voice.