Representatives from neither Kroger, nor the UFCW Local 400 have commented on the status of contract negotiations since earlier in the week. However, the last statements made would seem to indicate that both parties are hoping to avoid a potential work-stoppage.
“It’s business as usual at Kroger,” Kroger Mid-Atlantic corporate affairs manager Allison McGee said in an email dated Saturday, November 7. “Associates are continuing to report to work as scheduled. A strike authorization doesn’t mean a strike, At this point, the union has not called for a work stoppage. Our focus remains on our associates and recognizing and rewarding them for their hard work.”
Despite the optimistic sentiment, on the same day that this email was written, Kroger posted advertisements for “replacement workers” at 22 store-locations in and around the Greenbrier Valley on the job-search website Indeed.
The job description reads: “We are now accepting applications for all positions including cashier, bagger, grocery clerk, produce clerk, meat clerk, deli clerk and bakery clerk. We are always looking for smiling, energetic, friendly and fun people.”
The social media accounts of both Kroger and the UFCW Local 400 are rife with comments from union-member employees referencing larger than normal amounts of freight being shipped into stores, as well as automated calls from Kroger Mid-Atlantic advising employees to “report for their shifts as scheduled,” and that “no official strike has been called.
The reported calls also allegedly state that “a strike hurts everyone,” before ending with “thank you for all you do.”
Meanwhile, the UFCW Local 400 is moving ahead with preparations for the potential work-stoppage.
A message posted on the union’s website states, “For now, talks are continuing and we hope to negotiate a fair deal. But our members are united and stand ready to do what it takes to win a fair contract. A strike is our last resort. But if and when a strike becomes necessary, it is important to be ready.”
The union’s statement is followed by a list of “10 Steps to Prepare for a Strike.”
The West Virginia Daily News will have more on this developing story as additional information becomes available.