United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 75 members in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; northern Kentucky; and southeastern Indiana have ratified a new labor contract with The Kroger Co.’s Cincinnati-Dayton division.
Kroger said the five-year pact with UFCW Local 75, approved yesterday by the union after a tentative agreement was reached May 7, covers associates working at 104 stores in greater Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; northern Kentucky; and southeastern Indiana.
“After a year of uncertainty and sacrifice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UFCW Local 75 is pleased to have a five-year agreement with Kroger that establishes security and stability for our members, increases wages, improves contract language and maintains affordable health care,” UFCW 75 President Kevin Garvey said in a statement. “Our member bargaining committee strived to negotiate a labor agreement that provides a voice for our members on the job. This agreement provides that for 20,000 members in our communities.”
During the term of the contract, the Cincinnati-Dayton division will invest $159 million in wages, according to Cincinnati-based Kroger. Depending on an employee’s classification and date of hire, pay will rise by $4.78 hourly over the span of the agreement, the company said. Also by the end of the contract cycle, the average hourly wage for an associate in the Cincinnati-Dayton division will be almost $20 per hour, plus comprehensive benefits such as health care and pension, the retailer noted.
“We are pleased to reach an agreement that supports our associates and our company. This new contract provides significant pay increases, affordable health care, and continued investments in our associates’ pension fund,” stated Scott Hays, president of Kroger’s Cincinnati-Dayton division. “This agreement comes after thoughtful and productive work by both the company and union bargaining committees. I want to thank our associates for supporting it and for the excellent service they provide our customers every day.”
The Kroger Cincinnati-Dayton division operates food stores, pharmacies, fuel centers, warehouses and offices in greater Cincinnati, greater Dayton, northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana. UFCW Local 75’s approximately 32,000 members work in supermarkets, drugstores, food processing and packing plants, and health care facilities in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.
Kroger previously reported that it has been investing to raise frontline associates’ wages for the past several years, including an incremental $800 million in increases from 2018 to 2020 under the company’s Restock Kroger strategy, $300 million more than the originally planned. The company said the investment lifted the average wage rate to more than $15 per hour and, including HR and retirement benefits, the average hourly rate exceeds $20. Kroger also has invested nearly $1 billion to stabilize associates’ pensions.
“Kroger has invested more than $800 million in permanent wage increases in the last three years and is committed to continuing to invest significantly in our associates' pay in 2021,” according to Tim Massa, senior vice president and chief people officer at Kroger. “A key driver for Kroger is talent development, and we are committed to investing in our associates,” he added.