Walking, Not Talking

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The only people who could go Krogering were people with prescriptions at the store pharmacy. Even the gas stations at the Seventh Street location and in Belpre, were shut down. While motorists honked their support at picketers, they seemed to settle down for a long time off the job.

Dave Baldwin, United Food and Commercial Workers Local Representative, said, "No one wants to strike. It's not economically sound for both parties. If the weather gets cold, which it will, we'll dress warmly."

The ironic thing about the labor dispute is that people seeking other stores to shop at will probably go to stores such as Wal-Mart. They're mostly non-union operations. Meanwhile, with no shoppers in the store, we wondered what happens to all that food just sitting on the shelves?

Archie Fralin, a spokesman at the company's Virginia-based regional headquarters, says the stores have a few options. They can donate much of it to food banks in their home areas, or to stores in other regions. For instance, Kroger stores in Athens, Zanesville and McConnelsville, Ohio are in the Columbus region.

What they can't give away or sell elsewhere just gets thrown out. As for the company's next move in contract talks, it says workers have rejected Kroger's last and best offer. The last walkout by Kroger workers in 1999 ended within hours after it began. The last walkout to shut down stores in our area happened in 1980.