Workers at 26 Kroger Stores ratified new one-year agreements that protect livable wages and affordable, quality health care and benefits, according to a union spokeswoman.
Workers in grocery and non-foods departments, and in meat departments are represented by two separate contracts.
The new agreement includes no increase in weekly co-pay and no change in benefits over the term of the contract; it also introduces a health risk questionnaire program.
The intention behind the short contract is to focus on a universal benefit agreement and maintain quality, affordable healthcare for UFCW Local 75 members working at Kroger stores along the I-75 corridor in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.
The contract also provides lump sum bonuses and language improvements allowing workers to transfer between grocery and meat contracts.
The new agreement expires March 29, 2014.
"The bargaining committee worked diligently to reach a contract we hope is a pathway to better benefits in the future," said Brigid Kelly, a spokeswoman for UFCW Local 75, which represents thousands of workers in the food and grocery industry in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, with several hundred in the Northcoast region. Kroger has stores in Port Clinton and Sandusky.
The one-year deal was a better option for members because of some uncertainty with the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.
The shorter term of the contract — one year versus the normal three years — will enable the union to seek "better and more affordable benefits for our members," Kelly said."There needs to be clarity and direction in terms of (implementing) the law. We need to know what it says and what the conditions and terms are."