Several employees of King Soopers in Parker walked out on the job Wednesday as a part of a planned three-week labor strike for some of the Denver-area stores.
Employees picketing outside told Colorado Community Media that they’re hoping for improved wages, additional staff members and more security at the store.
Parker resident Basil Ortiz, who has worked for the King Soopers’ Starbucks for about two years, said the company is also considering cutting overtime hours.
“A lot of us need the overtime or else we can’t afford to live here,” Ortiz said. “I really like the Town of Parker. It’s really nice here. I would like to continue living here.”
Shannah Fields, who has worked at the store’s Starbucks for one year, said she recently got a raise, but only after she threatened to quit.
Fields, Ortiz and several others on strike stood outside the store holding picket signs asking people not to shop at the store. They handed out pamphlets with more information about the strike and spoke with all those interested in learning more.
Most people either accepted or denied a pamphlet without much interaction, but at least one woman entering the store told the people on strike to “get their (expletive) back to work.”
“We also work in customer service,” Ortiz said. “So it’s not anything we haven’t heard before.”
Inside the store, the Starbucks was closed and the meat and seafood counter appeared unstaffed with empty displays. No one stood by the cheese market.
"There’s definitely a lot less cars in the parking lot than there usually would be,” Ortiz said.
COLORADO SUN: King Soopers strike begins
The strike, organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, was approved by members in Denver and Colorado Springs “in response to the company’s unfair labor practices during negotiations over higher wages, benefit reductions and increased worker safety,” according to a press release from the UFCW.
Union officials rejected a request by King Soopers to bring in a federal mediator Monday and rejected the company’s “last, best and final” offer Tuesday.
“The company has failed to adequately address these demands and continues to demonstrate a lack of appreciation for workers who put their lives at risk in the midst of a global pandemic,” according to the press release.
Other area stores that participated in the strike are Denver, Boulder and Broomfield. The Colorado Springs stores may strike at a later date, according to a report from the Colorado Sun, a partner newsroom to Colorado Community Media.
Earlier this week, King Soopers filed a claim accusing the labor organization of engaging in “bad faith” bargaining.
“If Local 7 does not want to negotiate then they should at least have the decency to allow our associates to vote on the current proposal,” King Soopers/City Market President Joe Kelley said in a statement, according to the Colorado Sun. “Our associates should be treated fairly and transparently and should have the opportunity to decide what is best for them and their families. Right now, Local 7 is using our associates’ livelihoods as pawns in their political gamesmanship.”