Union rejects Kroger's King Soopers sweetened wage offer

The Kroger supermarket chain's headquarters is shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Lisa Baertlein/File Photo

Jan 11 (Reuters) - The union representing more than 8,700 King Soopers supermarket workers rejected the Kroger-owned (KR.N) Colorado chain's increased wage offer, setting the stage for a three-week strike starting Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, King Soopers, the largest grocery store chain in Colorado, had sweetened a wage offer to workers of UFCW Local 7 to $170 million calling it their "last, best and final offer."

This came after the union rejected several previous offers, including a $148 million investment in wages and signing bonuses over three years, last week.

"The company's last, best, and final offer, in many ways, is worse than its previous offers," Kim Cordova, president of UFCW Local 7, said in a statement.

Cordova said the company's wage offer "still doesn't cut it" and retains many of its previously proposed concessions and adds new concessionary items.

The union is seeking an increase in wages of at least $6 per hour for all workers. However, the company's "last, best and final offer" proposed raises of up to $4.50 per hour based on job classification and tenure, which was the same as its previous proposal.

While many terms of the new offer remain the same, a full-time checker with five years of experience will now get an annual compensation of over $47,000, compared with nearly $46,000 in the previous offer, or an additional 50 cents per hour in 2022, the proposal showed.

"This offer not only puts more money in associates' pockets but if accepted, promises to bring stability to our associates and Coloradans who have endured enough uncertainty and disruption," the company said in a statement.

UFCW Local 7 said that it will be out on the picket lines at 5 AM MT on Wednesday.

Over 8,700 UFCW Local 7 workers from 78 King Soopers stores are expected to participate in the strike, Cordova had previously said in a press briefing.

King Soopers operates more than 100 stores in Colorado.

Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Ananya Mariam Rajesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Devika Syamnath and Uttaresh.V

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