Laid off bakery workers approve negotiation agreement between union and Kroger

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Columbus Bakery suddenly closed Monday Feb. 11, 2019. Over 400 employees were laid off. (WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) Laid off Kroger bakery workers reluctantly accepted an agreement between their union and their former employer.

Union members with Bakery and Confectionary Workers International Union of America Local 57 gathered for a meeting Friday to hear the details of the agreement.

The agreement members approved includes a severance, reference letter, a final paycheck and healthcare benefits that run until the end of April.

Despite approving the agreement, many workers were not happy the details of the agreement, “I just think they could have extended the healthcare part a little bit more,” said Anitrice Jacobs.

Jacobs is one of the 411 employees laid off when Kroger closed their Columbus bakery on February 11th, “It’s been hard because you apply for jobs and I haven’t filled out an application in over 21 years and it kind of put a dent in my pocket because I’m a homeowner. I have a car I’m paying for. I have kids, life insurance. It’s just hurt me when they closed down like that with no notice.”

Lemmie Samuels is another longtime employee who worked at the bakery for 20 years and feels the company turned their back on their employees, “We worked our butts off up in that place. 11 hours, most of the time I worked 16 hours six and seven days a week and for them to treat us like this? It’s very terrible and it’s heartbreaking,” said Samuels.

The Cincinnati based grocery chain said they closed the Cleveland Avenue bakery because it’s “outdated layout and age of the equipment were no longer sustainable for us to remain competitive.”

Mark Lee with Bakers Union Local 57 said employees with decades of experience now have to enter job market all over again, “It’s devastating. You have people they’re unemployed. They’re trying to find jobs. They’re struggling at getting any call backs because they’ve worked there so long and haven’t been in the job market and it’s been a great struggle,” explained Lee.

Production of plant ended in February and at the time Kroger said the process of decommissioning operations would take 60-90 days.