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Kroger employees set to vote on contract

STEUBENVILLE — Employees at the 10 Upper Ohio Valley Kroger stores will be voting next week on what is being described as the company’s “last, best and final” contract offer.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776KS President Wendell Young said they’ll meet with the roughly 1,200 union members Monday to go through the proposal, with voting taking place Wednesday and Thursday.

“We want to make sure everyone is focused and informed, that’s why we’re having the meetings Monday,” Young said. “They have a lot to think about.”

Young said the two sides have been at the bargaining table for several months, working under a contract extension that will expire Oct. 2. He said next week’s vote “is not the first vote that’s taken place.”

He said Kroger “has made it clear they are not going to extend the contract any more past Oct. 2, so the contract will expire. They’ve been firm on that, they will not extend it — they put on the table what they say is their last, best and final offer, so our membership is faced with the choice to approve it or turn it down.”

A “no” vote on the contract wouldn’t necessarily mean employees would be on strike next week, he said. “Our goal would be to urge the company to extend the contract and find a mutually acceptable contract, but the company has been very firm there will be no more extensions,” he said. “That’s why we say there’s a lot to think about.”

Late Friday, Kroger regional spokeswoman Amy McCormack released a statement confirming the two sides had “met and discussed the terms and conditions of the contract” for the 10 Ohio Valley stores over the last several months.

“We believe we have provided the UFCW Local 1776 with a strong offer, addressing the needs of our associates with a total compensation package of wages and benefits while allowing Kroger to stay competitive in the region,” the statement said.

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