Smith's Union: Earnings uptick belies cuts

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Smith’s says offer includes wage increases and bonuses

By Garrison Wells

Kroger’s latest earnings report has triggered another attack by the union that represents employees at Smith’s Food & Drug centers.
In a written statement Wednesday, the union said that Smith’s parent company “revealed strong growth in an allegedly hurting economy.”
“It certainly makes sense to make reductions when sales or budgets are down, but here we have big business doing well and wanting to take advantage of the employees who are hurting in this economic climate,” the press release said. “Cuts aren’t needed when profit and sales have exceeded. Cuts hurt our families, our community and our economy.”
Smith’s, however, pointed out that its offer “provides more money for our associates with wage increases and bonuses.”
It also includes a more dollars for health care.
“We are asking for a very modest co-premium from associates that is consistent with UFCW contracts across the country,” said Marsha Gilford, Smith’s spokeswoman.
An example she gave was $15 a week for full family coverage.
“Smith’s has provided a good offer to our associates,” she said. “It’s a good proposal, especially in the economy.”
The Kroger Co. reported sales jumped 6 percent to $18.8 billion in the second quarter from $17.7 billion in the first quarter.
For the first two quarters of fiscal 2010, Kroger’s total sales were $43.6 billion compared with $40.5 billion for the same period last year. Excluding fuel sales, total sales increased 3.2 percent over the prior year. For the same period, identical supermarket sales, excluding fuel, increased 2.6 percent, the company said in its earnings report.
Kroger’s sales “have remained solid in the face of competitive and economic challenges because of the strong credibility we have with our shoppers,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive.
Kroger is the nation’s largest traditional grocery retailer and employs more than 334,000 associates in 2,468 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners.
United Food and Commercial Workers 1564 represents about 2,000 employees in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Los Lunas, Edgewood, Santa Fe, Taos, Los Alamos, Farmington, Socorro, Grants and White Rock.
Smith’s has stores in Los Alamos and White Rock.
Smith’s is set to go before an administrative law judge next month in Albuquerque.