Kroger promises Houston workers raises, health benefits in $56M company investment

The Kroger Co. corporate headquarters is seen July 15, 2008 in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (Scott Olson, 2008 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – Kroger announced it is investing $56 million in wage increases and health care benefits for its Houston associates.

“Kroger’s commitment to increase wages and ensure our associates have access to world-class affordable, secure and reliable health care benefits is a core priority for the company,” said Joe Kelley, president of Kroger’s Houston Division.

The decision on the investment was made after several months of failed negotiations between Kroger and UFCW Local 455, who refused to schedule a vote that would allow Kroger associates to vote an agreement that would improve the security and stability of past and future pension benefits by moving to a new variable annuity pension plan, which would include a nearly $1 billion investment by Kroger, according to a release.

“Our plan removes any uncertainty frontline associates experience with their current health and welfare trust fund plan,” Kelley said. “We believe this is the right path forward for our associates.”

Here are the following facts about Kroger’s investment in Houston associates, per a company news release:

  • Every frontline Houston associate will receive an increase in pay over the next six months. In February, all associates in the current wage scale will receive an increase as part of our wage implementation, which includes hourly rate increases over the life of the contract ranging from $.90 to $2.45 per hour, depending on position.
  • Increased pay for department heads, assistant department heads, leads, and top-rate part-time and full-time associates
  • Increased premiums for leads in Floral, Dairy, eCommerce and Backdoor Receivers
  • Increased premiums for Assistant Department Heads
  • A new $1 premium for both full-time and part-time night crew associates
  • Kroger Houston says it will spend more than $75 million annually on health care for hourly associates.
  • Kroger Houston associates will pay just $32 for individual coverage or $172 for family coverage each month in a company-administered plan. By comparison, the national average per month for individual coverage is $103 and $501 for family coverage, according to the 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Summary of Findings, 2019, Kroger noted in its news release.
  • Kroger says it has offered to invest nearly $1 billion in a variable annuity pension plan to improve the stability and security of past and future pension benefits for 33,000 associates across 14 divisions, including Houston meat clerks.

On Friday, Kroger released the following written comment:

“Unfortunately, the union has not given their members an opportunity to vote on the investments. Instead, they are asking them to authorize a strike and potentially disrupt their lives. After many months of negotiations and a bargaining deadlock with the union, Kroger has chosen to do what’s right for our people and move forward with implementing the contract including transitioning associates to our stable and affordable company healthcare plan, and implementing much deserved wage increases.”

You can find additional details on wage increases by clicking the link here.

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