They are in the midst of negotiations with the company for their next contract.
Outside the Steubenville store, employees from many Ohio Valley Kroger stores spoke out about how they can’t even afford to shop where they work, and how many have to rely on public assistance to feed their families.
A nine-year employee said she still needs government benefits to make ends meet.
“I still need to get food stamps, I still need to get HUD and medical cards,” said Lisa Chuma, an employee at the Wellsburg store. “I have to go to the food bank at least once a month because my wages just don’t cover it.”
Another employee has a child with special dietary needs.
After she buys his food, she says there’s no money for her own.
“I don’t have money for lunch,” she notes. “So I end up just praying that there’s a cupcake or cookies, something that I can eat in the lunchroom that I can eat to make it through my shift.”
Retirees say they face the prospect of their health care being eliminated.
“The new retirees were promised health care 40 years ago and many of them started as teens and now they have health problems from standing on concrete their whole adult lives. Everybody who worked there now has bad hips, bad backs, bad knees.”
Congressional candidate Kendra Fershee sid government gives breaks to corporations, but the benefits do not trickle down to the people.
“We have to take care of the people first,” Fershee said. “And then our communities will benefit and then the corporations will benefit. But we’ve got it upside down right now.”
They all said they stores are swamped with shoppers from the gas and oil drilling industry, and profits have never been higher.
“Business is good,” said Chuck Taskalines, a Kroger retiree. “And they just want to deny that it’s good and act like it’s poverty and it’s not.”
“They’re calling people from other departments to man the registers,” added Lisa Chuma. “They’re making a profit. These stores are making a profit from the gas and oil people. But we’re not seeing it.”
Kroger officials responded to our request for a comment.
“Our goal with every negotiation is to provide our associates with a competitive package of wages and benefits,” said Amy McCormick, corporate affairs manager. “The union has the right to rally, but the most productive but the most productive thing they could do is to work the the company in a manner that positively addresses these concerns.”