WVPA Sharing

Opinion: New labor contract affirms Kroger’s commitment to West Virginia

By Paula Ginnett

President of Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic Division

Whether it’s for the turkey at Thanksgiving dinner or the fresh food and essentials your family needs, Kroger has been proud to serve as the neighborhood grocer for West Virginia families for nearly a hundred years. What started as just five stores in Charleston in 1926 has grown to forty locations across the Mountain State, currently employing more than 4,200 West Virginians and providing career opportunities to tens of thousands more over our nearly century-long legacy in the state.

Paula Ginnett

From Charleston to Princeton, Huntington to Morgantown, Kroger is a cornerstone of West Virginia’s communities – and it’s continuing to grow. Two new stores are nearing completion as part of a $40 million investment – one in Clarksburg and the other in Scott Depot.

Kroger’s commitment goes beyond the walls of its stores, though. The company strives to support its customers, neighbors, and partners through various community partnerships and engagements – like its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan. As part of this initiative, Kroger has committed to reducing hunger through supporting local food banks and donated more than 800,000 meals and over $4.4 million in community giving last year alone in West Virginia. And we are a proud sponsor of both West Virginia University and Marshall University athletics.

Kroger is the fifth largest employer in the state of West Virginia. Further, Kroger is one of the top-ten employers in Boone, Brooke, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Monongalia and Summers counties. Throughout the pandemic, the Kroger family of companies invested nearly a billion dollars across the country to reward associates and safeguard associates and customers.

But Kroger associates are what makes Kroger great, setting it apart from other grocers, keeping customers coming back week after week, year after year. Their commitment to serving West Virginia’s families has been resilient, ensuring reliable access to fresh food and essentials over the past eight months and long before that. And it’s not just about providing groceries – it’s also how associates live Kroger’s purpose and welcome its customers.

Two weeks ago, I visited several stores across West Virginia to meet with associates and see firsthand the great work that is happening on the frontlines. It was great hearing from associates who have been with the company for 30 and 40 years – and some even longer. Kroger aims to be a place where you can feed your future through a lifelong career.

I also heard associates express some of their concerns – concerns that many Americans likely share – such as earning a fair compensation package that includes health care coverage, vacation time, and competitive wages.

Those constructive conversations were key in helping Kroger fully understand our associates’ top priorities, and through thoughtful negotiations with the union last week, Kroger reached a tentative agreement with UFCW Local 400 on a new contract. The contract, which will be voted on this week by associates, includes more than $20 million in wage investments, continued access to affordable health care coverage, and career growth opportunities.

It’s these opportunities – visiting with associates and listening to their concerns as well as providing clarity when possible – that helps Kroger keep its associates’ best interests at the forefront of operations. From health care and wages to taking quick action to protect the health and safety of its associates in response to COVID-19, Kroger remains committed to its West Virginia associates and customers.

This agreement is a win for Kroger associates, the Kroger family of companies, and ultimately Kroger customers who, in a time of so much uncertainty, will be able to count on Kroger and its associates throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Editor’s note: Kroger employees finish voting on the tentative contract in stores today and results are expected Saturday.

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