Kroger workers said they were bullied by UFCW 1059 to vote "Yes"
Kroger worker and Kroger administrator

After voting over the previous three days Kroger members of UFCW 1059 approved and ratified their 4th contract offer with 3,546 “Yes” votes to 3,193 “No” votes.

Kroger 1059 members had previously rejected their new three-year deal three times as negotiations between UFCW 1059 and Kroger corporate have been on-and-off since late July.

Even if they had rejected their contract a fourth straight time the union would only have authorized a strike if 66 percent of members voted ‘No’ this fourth time, this according to Kroger workers to the Free Press.

For the 3rd vote, 55 percent voted “No” and 44 percent “Yes,” which would have made the 66 percent threshold an uphill battle for the 12,000-plus Kroger members of UFCW 1059.

Worse, say Kroger workers, is how they previously voted to authorize a strike in the 3rd vote, but the union instead went back to the bargaining table.

As word spread last night that the contract had passed, stunned Kroger workers turned to social media to express their frustration.

“Why now and not the other times?” wrote one worker on a Kroger online forum. “It was the same contract!! Let the job search begin.”

Kroger workers, who pay roughly $10 to UFCW each week, are saying their union once again had returned a re-worded and re-shuffled contract.

They repeatedly told the Free Press their union underperformed in these negotiations or is flat-out in bed with Kroger due to the future possibility that Kroger may make a move to go non-union, such as Giant Eagle, for instance. UFCW 1059 President Randy Quickel makes $222,000 annually, and union leadership, which is based in Whitehall, has mostly scoffed at any attempt by the Free Press to take questions.

Kroger 1059 members had told the Free Press they felt their new contract – after two years of making sure the community was able to have what they need during a pandemic – was “abysmal” and “insulting”.

“Our union is absolutely in bed with Kroger,” is what the Free Press heard time-and-time again.

Kroger workers retold these stories to the Free Press regarding their in-store voting process over the previous week: Union leaders (employees of 1059) were “peeking at votes” and “insulting” those who voted ‘No’.

One Kroger associate told posted this story on the Facebook page Kroger rant and raves: “They guy told me I’d be out on the streets if I did not vote yes.” 

Union members were also throwing out votes of those who had accidentally put their vote marks outside the box.

“Scare tactics won,” said an anonymous Kroger worker.

In the summer of 2021 the Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit from California, surveyed over 10,000 Kroger employees, and 63 percent said, “they didn’t earn enough monthly to cover basic expenses” and “36 percent worry about being evicted.”

On the flipside, the Cincinnati-based grocery store giant Kroger, which now rivals Walmart, told the Motley Fool earlier this year it can generate over $4.2 billion of operating profit in 2022 compared to $3.5 billion in 2021.

What’s more, UFCW 1059 has several leadership positions making well over $100,000, which suggests that UFCW President Randy Quickel (pictured above right) really likes his cushy job.

The bottom line, it’s all about the bottom line for Kroger corporate and, unfortunately and arguably, UFCW 1059.

“It’s pretty clear that Kroger is profitable and they put their stock above their employees,” said Chuck Lynd, a retired OSU professor, economist, and advocate for sustainable local economies. “You can be sure Kroger could afford to pay a living wage, but they are a cartel with the other big grocery chains. We need legislation to break up the monopoly capitalists that dominate every sector of the economy.”