business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Denver Post reports that "striking King Soopers employees across the Denver area left the picket lines Friday after the company and union negotiators announced a tentative agreement … The strike that began Jan. 12 covered more than 8,000 King Soopers employees at 78 stores in Boulder, Parker and across the metro area."

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 will vote today on whether to ratify the three-year agreement, details of which have not yet been released.

KC's View:

The story notes that "workers’ complaints that the company hasn’t adequately supported or protected them during the coronavirus pandemic fueled anger over other issues, including wages, the outsourcing of jobs and workplace safety in the face of rising crime … Labor shortages plaguing industries nationwide in an economy still recovering from the pandemic were seen as giving workers some leverage."

This is just part of a broader story about strengthening unionization efforts around the country, and the sometimes contentious negotiations taking place between management and an emboldened labor movement.

We've seen the continuing efforts at Amazon and Starbucks, and I continue to believe that we're going to see some resurgence of unionization calls at Walmart.  It was indicative of where we are to see the following story in the New York Times:

"Employees at an REI store in Manhattan filed for a union election on Friday, making the outdoor equipment and apparel retailer the latest prominent service-industry employer whose workers have sought to unionize … The filing at the REI store in SoHo asked the labor board for an election involving about 115 employees, who are seeking to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the same union that has overseen the union campaign at the Amazon warehouse in Alabama.

"In addition to filing for the election, the REI employees have asked for voluntary recognition of their union, which would make a vote unnecessary."

Like Starbucks, REI positions itself as being a progressive company, though the calls for unionization may test that premise;  one employee tells the Times that the campaign was partly a response to “a tangible shift in the culture at work that doesn’t seem to align with the values that brought most of us here.”