US supermarket chain Kroger and labour union United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 951 have commenced negotiations for a new contract. 

The negotiation and the new contract will affect more than 1,000 essential grocery workers in the US state of Michigan.  

This comes as their existing contract is set to expire on 15 June 2024. 

According to UFCW 951, discussions for a new contract started in late April at its headquarters in Kentwood, Michigan. 

The bargaining committee includes Kroger employees from the ten stores UFCW 951 represents in mid-Michigan.  

UFCW 951 secretary/treasurer and chief negotiator for the talks Courtney Phillips said: “As we begin negotiations, we have made it very clear to Kroger we want a strong contract for our members.  

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“Kroger made record profits during the pandemic, and the company continues to bring in billions of dollars in earnings every year. Those big profits are the direct result of the hard work being done every day by its frontline workers in the stores and they deserve better wages.” 

Wage increases are the focal point for Kroger members in the new contract, UFCW 951 stated in a press release.  

Negotiations earlier in the year between Kroger and two other UFCW locals in the US narrowly avoided being met with strikes before agreements were reached.  

The supermarket chain is also engaged in a potential $24.6bn acquisition of Albertson’s, which would create a US retail giant.  

Courtney Phillips added: “During the talks, Kroger should only be focused on how valuable its employees are to the company and paying them a fair wage in this new contract.”