On the heels of a new report showing significant financial insecurity, including homelessness, among workers at Kroger grocery stores, more than 8,000 of the chain\u0026#039;s employees in Colorado went on strike Wednesday to demand fair wages and better healthcare benefits.\r\n\r\n\u0022The companies were thriving, but our workers didn\u0026#039;t thrive. Know what our workers got? Covid. Attacked. Beat up. Spit on. Slapped. Overworked. And the company? They did great.\u0022\r\n\r\nAmid a recent wave of successful strikes at companies including John Deere and Kellogg\u0026#039;s, the work stoppage is taking place at nearly 80 King Sooper grocery stores, which are owned by the Kroger Company, across the Denver metropolitan area. According to the Colorado Sun, 10 additional stores in Colorado Springs could also go on strike in the coming weeks.\r\n\r\nThe workers\u0026#039; union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7, rejected the company\u0026#039;s \u0022best and final offer\u0022 on Tuesday, saying the $84 billion company did not offer enough for employees to afford basic necessities.\r\n\r\n\u0022King Soopers is enjoying record profits while leaving its workers to struggle with low wages,\u0022 union president Kim Cordova said in a statement. \u0022Grocery workers ensure that our communities have access to food, but they cannot even afford to feed their own families. This is grossly unfair.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe union is demanding better health benefits and working conditions, particularly considering that Covid-19 cases are rising and employees have continued working on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years.\r\n\r\n\u0022The companies were thriving, but our workers didn\u0026#039;t thrive,\u0022 Cordova said of the early months of the pandemic at a recent press conference. \u0022Know what our workers got? Covid. Attacked. Beat up. Spit on. Slapped. Overworked. And the company? They did great. They did absolutely great, sitting behind their desk doing their job by Zoom.\u0022\r\n\r\nSen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed solidarity with the workers on Wednesday, calling out the high salary of Kroger\u0026#039;s CEO, Rodney McMullen.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe company\u0026#039;s offer came the same day that the research firm Economic Roundtable released a report showing the economic realities facing workers at the chain, who earn an average of $29,655 per year for 30-hour work weeks.\r\n\r\nThe firm surveyed 10,000 workers in Colorado, California, and Washington and found 70% of respondents work only part time—with many working erratic schedules \u0022so they can\u0026#039;t have a second job even if they want it,\u0022 Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College who worked on the report, told the Sun.\r\n\r\nTwo-thirds of the respondents said they couldn\u0026#039;t afford basic monthly expenses, 39% couldn\u0026#039;t afford groceries, and 14% said they had experienced homelessness in the past year. More than a third said they are currently worried about being evicted.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAs Common Dreams reported in November 2020, Kroger offered hazard pay to workers after the pandemic began—but ended the payment after just two months, despite the chain\u0026#039;s sales going up by 30% in 2020.\r\n\r\n\u0022They\u0026#039;ve given huge pay increases to top executives. The CEO makes over $22 million a year,\u0022 Dreier told the Sun. \u0022Their cash on hand has gone up since February 2020.\u0022\r\n\r\nMeanwhile, adjusted for inflation, wages for the highest-paid grocery workers at King Soopers in Colorado have gone down in the past decade, according to Dreier:\r\n\r\n\r\nHe said his team found that net income rates tripled while sales increased 15.8%, while payroll and benefits shrank as a percentage of sales. The wage analysis of the top-paid King Soopers food clerk in Colorado between 2010 and 2020 showed a 16% increase to $19.16 an hour. Adjusted for inflation though, he said that\u0026#039;s a 3% reduction in pay.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe offer made to the union included an hourly pay raise of $1.50 for full-time checkout workers, giving them just over $21 per hour and $22.61 by 2024.\r\n\r\nThose raises would be too little, too late for King Soopers workers, according to Dreier.\r\n\r\n\u0022If they are going to be able to pay the rent and pay the groceries and all the other things, they need to make $45,760 a year,\u0022 or $22 per hour, he said.