by Don McIntosh
January 7, 2022
Starting 6 a.m. Dec. 17, over 7,000 Fred Meyer and QFC workers in and around Portland, Bend, Newberg, and Klamath Falls walked off the job to begin a strike. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 planned for a five-day strike during one of the busiest shopping times of the year. But parent company Kroger had enough on Day One, and made a contract offer that Local 555 says will be the best it’s ever had. Union members ratified the new set of agreements in a series of votes held Dec. 22 to 30.
Over its three-year term, the agreements will raise wages $3 an hour for all journey-level employees, and $5.05 an hour for employees who work in what Fred Meyer calls “CCK,” which stands for central checkout. Those cashiers, mostly female, have been underpaid compared to cashiers on the grocery side. Now they’ll be paid the same as of Aug. 7, 2022. The new agreements phase out separate contracts for CCK and fold them into the grocery contracts.
The contracts also attain a long-sought milestone: A $15 an hour starting wage. As of July, that will be $0.25 above the Portland-area minimum wage, and the contract maintains that premium each time the state minimum wage rises for inflation. Fred Meyer workers don’t stay at the starting wage for long: A step-pay schedule mandates a raise after 600 hours and again 10 times until they reach the journey-level wage after 7,800 hours, about four years at full time. For grocery workers and meatwrappers, journey pay is now $19.85 (except “Schedule B” workers in deli and bakery, where it’s $17.20). For meatcutters, it’s $22.29.