Unionized Kroger workers hold protest in Portsmouth

Unionized workers at Kroger on High Street in Portsmouth protest to keep their jobs on April 10 , 2015 as the store prepares to close. Credit: WAVY-TV 10 photo.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — As Kroger prepares to close its High Street grocery store, the affected employees are trying to keep their jobs in Portsmouth.

The Kroger location will close Saturday, and more than 80 union workers will be transferred to a new union store in Yorktown, 25 miles away. Those workers are asking Kroger for the option to be transferred to either of two closer Kroger Marketplaces.

The employees, who are part of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, held a protest Friday in front of the Kroger Market place on Frederick Boulevard. They handed management there a petition and asked to to be allowed to transfer to the nearby store without losing the pay and benefits guaranteed by their union contract.

Many of the employees said they can’t make the long commute to Yorktown, if Kroger denies their request.

One example is Nick Roe, who has special needs. He’s worked for Kroger for 17 years and relies on his parents to drive him to and from work each day. If he can’t transfer to a nearby Kroger Marketplace, the only way he’ll be able to keep his job is if his parents’ can drive 100 miles each day.

Another employee, Michael Cowan, works the overnight shift so he can share childcare duties with his wife. The long commute would mean he would have to start sending his daughter to daycare.

The Kroger Marketplace stores in Portsmouth and Suffolk opened without union representation. The stores could become unionized, if the associates there choose to do so.

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