By Finn Ahl-Hinson
On Jan. 12, 2022, thousands of King Soopers workers across Denver went on strike against unfair labor practices. The effort was led by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local union (UFCWL). Although the two entities have since reached a tentative agreement regarding the matter (the strike ended January 21st), it is still important to understand the conflict, and King Soopers employees’ fight for fair labor practices.
Several students at Heritage work at King Soopers and went on strike. Paul G., ’22, who went on strike, shares his ideas regarding wages at King Soopers.
“I am not exactly sure about me, a teenager working only 18 hours a week, but I know that anyone trying to make a living off of my wages and doing a similar job to me is most definitely not getting paid enough. Twice I’ve seen workers crying in the break room over some kind of financial issues,” he says.
A week into the strike, a restraining order was filed against the protesters at all King Soopers in the Denver area. As stated by Jessica Trowbridge, a spokesperson for King Soopers, “at several locations picketers are engaging in unlawful activity including threatening, blocking and intimidating both associates and customers who have chosen to cross the picket line.”
Wesley H., ’22, a student at Heritage who participated in the strike, offered his perspective on the restraining order.
“In a few of the Denver stores, the employees were being incredibly rowdy and aggressive with the people crossing the picket line, which is what called for the restraining order. But, if King Soopers were to have addressed it meaningfully and fairly, they would have administered it for the Denver area only, and let the other peaceful districts be left up to continue the picketing as normal. It was incredibly petty for King Soopers to have filed it generally against every single store, and is a clear attempt to silence its hard workers and try to stop the strike without bargaining, which we will not accept.”
Further, Lu W., ’22, another student who participated in the strike added, “If you are peaceful, people are more willing to listen to you, meaning they will understand why you are striking and are then more willing to support you. But if you are yelling and blocking the customers from going in, then they will get angry at you and not want to listen. It’s okay to be angry and stand your ground, but don’t drag bystanders down for your cause.”
The strike ended on January 21, 2022. According to the UFCWL, “It reached a tentative three-year labor agreement with King Soopers,” and said, “the deal will provide the wages and protections deserved by workers, who were considered essential during the pandemic.”
On top of financial issues, workers risked their lives during the height of the pandemic every day, but continued to serve their communities.
Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said, “We didn’t ask for this fight, but the company chose to put profits over people for so long and failed to listen to the workers who made its success possible.”
Finally, Paul G. shared his thoughts on the agreement. “As long as the company can pay us a far more competitive wage, which is now starting at $16 an hour, I agree with the resolution.”