SALEM (WSLS 10) - We could soon find out how Kroger shoppers will be impacted if thousands of employees go on strike.
Kroger workers voted to authorize a strike during a meeting on Wednesday at the Salem Civic Center. Everyone we talked to seemed almost happy and even excited with the vote to authorize a strike.
More than 1,200 workers voted unanimously to reject the company's offer and to authorize a strike at 41 stores in the Roanoke Valley region after the hour-long meeting.
"I'm really happy with the vote," said Basim Adbul-Karim, a two-year Kroger employee. "I think we need to show Kroger that we're serious and we're worth a heck of a lot more than they're offering us."
Kroger said they are meeting with the UFCW 400 bargaining committees May 23rd and 24th to work through issues. The parties have signed a contract extension through June 4th.
This stems from hundreds of Kroger workers fighting for better benefits because many workers told us they are unhappy with the company's proposed contract.
Before voting to authorize the strike, they voted unanimously to reject a proposed collective bargaining agreement Kroger described as its "last best offer" to associates.
The offer would have only provided a slight wage increase of .25 cents and no paid sick days for store associates. It also fell short of renewing Kroger's commitment to providing health insurance for its retirees.
"I've been with Kroger for five years and I'm making almost nine-dollars," said James Jackson, a five-year Kroger worker. "Where now, there's new hires coming in and can make more or the same exact of what I've worked five-years for."
"It wasn't an easy decision, but at the end of the day, we had to do it. Sometimes enough is enough," said Kevin Johnson, a Kroger associate and union member who voted in favor of the strike authorization.
Kroger presented the last-minute proposal less than one hour before the current collective bargaining agreement was set to expire at midnight on Sunday, May 8. The bargaining committee voted unanimously to reject the offer before presenting it to the full membership for a vote this morning.
The strike authorization affects 41 Kroger stores in the region stretching from Kingsport, TN to Harrisonburg, VA. Approximately 3,000 of the affected associates are union members with Local 400 of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Now, the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 union will relay the results of Wednesday's vote to Kroger. Kroger can come back to the table one more time to meet the demands the union is asking for, if not employees could strike.
What's still not clear is how this will affect shoppers and the stores. We've asked Kroger what the plan is if the workers do strike -- corporate said it too early to speculate.
Below is the list of stores that would be affected by a strike:
Kroger #118, Clifton Forge, VA
Kroger #202, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #208, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #209, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #210, Blacksburg, VA
Kroger #215, Radford, VA
Kroger #226, Salem, VA
Kroger #228, Waynesboro, VA
Kroger #239, Charlottesville, VA
Kroger #255, Abingdon, VA
Kroger #261, Johnson City, TN
Kroger #273, Bluewell, WV
Kroger #310, Harrisonburg, VA
Kroger #316, Princeton, WV
Kroger #320, Salem, VA
Kroger #322, Vinton, VA
Kroger #325, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #326, Lynchburg, VA
Kroger #327, Lynchburg, VA
Kroger #328, Kingsport, TN
Kroger #330, Salem, VA
Kroger #334, Charlottesville, VA
Kroger #335, Bristol, VA
Kroger #343, Staunton, VA
Kroger #345, Christiansburg, VA
Kroger #347, Rocky Mountain, VA
Kroger #350, Martinsville, VA
Kroger #359, Charlottesville, VA
Kroger #364, Daleville, VA
Kroger #367, Johnson City, TN
Kroger #375, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #377, Forest, VA
Kroger #391, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #399, Hardy, VA
Kroger #400, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #401, Roanoke, VA
Kroger #402, Blacksburg, VA
Kroger #403, Waynesboro, VA
Kroger #404, Lexington, VA
Kroger #406, Appomatox, VA
Kroger #408, Lynchburg, VA