New Kroger Co. (KR) contract will bring health benefit changes to Cincinnati employees

Tentative deal to come to union vote Tuesday

CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract covering about 12,000 employees in Cincinnati and 4,000 in Dayton.

Union officials are tight-lipped about the contract terms, but United Food and Commercial Workers Local 75 spokeswoman Brigid Kelly said the new deal will not include the same cuts in spousal coverage that Indiana union members agreed to last summer.

"There are definitely changes," Kelly said. "Our agreement is one in which all spouses will have some coverage options."

In Indiana, Kroger ended health coverage for about 1,700 employee spouses , providing a one-time payment of $1,000 for those choosing to shop for individual coverage through health exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

Kelly said the union was able to preserve some health benefits by unifying coverage options in Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo. Kroger employees in all three cities will have the same set of benefit plans from which to choose, Kelly said. She declined further comment, saying members will be fully briefed on health plan changes in the next several days.

A posting on the UFCW web site says ratification and voting on the new contract will take place Tuesday, July 29. The posting says the proposed agreement includes:

• One contract for members in Cincinnati and Dayton stores
• Annual wage increases for top-rated classifications
• Wage parity between top rates by the end of the agreement
• Affordable, quality health care for members and their families
• Retirement security through investment in the UFCW Consolidated Pension
• Language improvements to protect seniority and employee schedules

Kroger has been working since last summer on a new contract for Cincinnati employees, who have been working under a series of extensions since the old contract expired in October. Health care costs were a big issue in the talks.




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