By Bobby Bordelon\r\n\r\nEither a new work contract or a strike will be the result of a vote held by Kroger employees who are members of the Local 400 chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union this week.\r\n\r\nLocal 400 represents workers in a number of businesses in both West Virginia and Virginia, including Kroger, ResCare, Tyson Foods, CVS, Macy\u2019s, and more. On October 22 the union was provided a potential final contract in a document named \u201cKroger Limited Partnership Mid-Atlantic Marketing Area Best Offer for Settlement To UFCW Union Local 400 West Virginia Charleston Area Stores,\u201d a deal the union is now pushing members to reject.\r\n\r\n\u201cOn Saturday, Kroger published their<a href="http:\/\/www.ufcw400.org\/wp-content\/uploads\/2020\/10\/20201022-West-Virginia-CBO-General-Update-FINAL-entire-proposal.pdf"> latest proposal<\/a> for a new West Virginia union contract,\u201d reads the union website. \u201cThe proposal includes significant changes to your health care benefits that will negatively impact your coverage. After calling us heroes for putting ourselves and our families at risk throughout this pandemic, it is nothing short of a slap in the face.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to the union website, the company\u2019s proposal would \u201cplace a limit on the amount of money Kroger is required to pay to fund\u201d employee health care benefits. The cap could be inadequate to fund employee benefits and, \u201cas early as 14 months from now,\u201d employees could see their weekly contributions increased, coverage slashed, higher deductibles, high out of pocket expenses, increased prescription drugs costs, and a potential change in benefits making some employees \u201cno longer eligible for health care.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn a cover letter for the contract, Kroger emphasized the new funds put into the contract and looks to avoid a strike.\r\n\r\n\u201cAs part of its good faith efforts to secure a new contract with Local 400 for its West Virginia Area retail grocery stores, Kroger has put significant contract improvements on the table\u2014including more than $20 million in wage increases for our associates,\u201d reads the cover letter. \u201cKroger has done so in connection with its efforts to avoid the multiple uncertainties that come with an unsettled, open agreement. Despite our best efforts and Kroger\u2019s willingness to provide substantial increases and improvements for associates, the parties have been unable to reach a new deal. ... We prefer to use available resources toward securing a new agreement that directly benefits our associates versus utilizing our resources to prepare fully for a potential work stoppage and to assess what the labor uncertainty may mean for our customers, suppliers, associates, and market share. Kroger, however, cannot delay indefinitely or sit idly by in the face of uncertainty that puts its business interests at risk.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe letter also sets a deadline for the deal, hence the union vote this week.\r\n\r\n\u201cThese terms must be accepted and ratified by November 6, 2020,\u201d the cover letter reads. \u201c If not, Kroger will need to reconsider and adjust its positions, as appropriate, to account for the business uncertainties that have been generated by the parties\u2019 continued failure to reach a deal. \u2026 We hope the Union will accept Kroger\u2019s Comprehensive Best Offer and promptly schedule a ratification vote.\u201d\r\n\r\nVoting is slated to take place at the Rainelle Kroger (Store 734, 406 John Raine Drive) on Wednesday, November 4,\u00a0 from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. In other areas, voting also took place on November 3 and will take place on November 5.\r\n\r\nVote counts will be Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. ET via Zoom video conference to witness the vote count. UFCW Local 400 members must <a href="https:\/\/us02web.zoom.us\/meeting\/register\/tZItcu6uqj0oGNEyhrLfwudmUD4GvAz8KBQE">register at this link<\/a> in order to attend.