Unions are necessary

This letter was published in the Waynesboro, Virginia News Virginian on May 18, 2016

Your article of May 17, “Strike vote is on tap,” may have attracted the interest of only a few who are interested in labor union activities.  However, it deals with bread-and-butter issues vital to most of us.  I quote only the key items concerning Kroger’s current proposal for a new contract with its employees:

“Kroger’s current proposal offers employees a 25 cent raise effective immediately, with one personal day that wouldn’t begin until 2019.”

“…employees would only be eligible for raises every four years, as opposed to the one year cycle currently in place.”

“…the company would also eliminate healthcare benefits for all retired employees.”

“A big issue for employees is the fact they see those higher up in the company getting much larger raises. CEO Rodney McMullen, for example, saw a 17 percent raise in the fiscal year that ended Jan. 30, bringing his total compensation package to $11.2 million…”

“’Walmart raised their minimum wage to 10 dollars an hour, where Kroger is continuing to pay their employees eight dollars an hour,’ Robin Hall, a Kroger employee in Waynesboro, said.”

Unions have lost popularity since President Reagan initiated his war against them. Kroger employees have a union, and it is their main support in these contract negotiations. What would the company propose if there were no union?  Could we seriously wish that the employees had no such support?

Jim Burns
Waynesboro

P.S. I’d like to think that  this letter added a drop or two to the bucket that resulted in the following headline and subhead on May 26, 2016:

Kroger rethinks ‘last best offer’
The union’s bargaining committee voted unanimously
to accept Kroger’s newest offer