Cincinnati, Kroger workers in the Cincinnati region voted on Wednesday to reject a new three-year contract proposal from Kroger Co. that would increase health-insurance costs for employees.
Leaders of the United Food and Commercial Workers union had urged rejection of the offer, giving membership the authority to call a strike if future negotiations don't progress. Union leaders said the proposal by Kroger also offered sub-par wage increases.
According to union officials, Kroger's offer was rejected by 98% of voters, and turnout was strong. The union represents 11,000 employees in 77 stores.
A contract that expired Saturday has been extended to Nov. 3, but either side could cancel it with four days notice.
Kroger has negotiated new contracts in a half-dozen other regions this year, including Texas, Michigan and Southern California.
The company operates 2,491 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banners, including Kroger, Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, King Soopers, Smith's, Fry's, Dillons, QFC and City Market.