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Denver King Soopers workers vote against contract


Denver Unionized King Soopers grocery workers in the Denver area have overwhelmingly voted against a five-year offer from the company.

Union officials say Denver-area employees voted Monday to urge the company to return to the bargaining table.

Thousands of union members along Colorado's Front Range are voting this week on a new contract. Union spokeswoman Laura Chapin said a preliminary review of the ballots Monday night showed that Denver-area workers overwhelmingly voted to send negotiators back to King Soopers to come up with a better proposal.

A final tally for all the workers along the Front Range will be made Wednesday.

King Soopers spokeswoman Diane Mulligan said the company was disappointed to hear about the vote, but added the company will continue to try to reach an agreement with the union.

The contract with workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 expired May 9. The union and company disagree on raises, pension benefits and a two-tier system that offers fewer benefits to newer employees. The union wants all workers to receive the same pay and benefits.

Meanwhile, King Soopers has accused the union of disrupting business by sending representatives in groups to stores to talk to workers on the sales floor, hand out union fliers and buttons and talk to customers. The company asked a federal judge to block the union's actions, but a hearing isn't scheduled until Thursday, after voting wraps up.

King Soopers, which is part of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., has offered raises of 25 cents an hour for top-level employees in the first three years of the contract and raises of 30 cents an hour for the last two years of the contract, spokeswoman Diane Mulligan said.

The union said most employees would have wages frozen.

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