Strike averted as Twin Cities Cub Foods workers win new contract

A youth strike set to begin at 5:30 a.m. Friday ahead of an expected busy shopping weekend is off after union leaders reached a historic labor agreement shortly after midnight for 3,000 workers serving 33 Twin Cities stores.

United Foods and Commercial Workers Local 663 announced it had won a two-year tentative contract, which members must now ratify at a meeting on Tuesday.

The tentative contract calls for raises of $2.50 to $3.50 an hour, to take effect in phases by spring 2024. Union members had sought raises of up to $4 an hour. At one point before the strike vote, Cub officials had offered raises of 75 cents to $2.75 an hour.

In other gains, around 300 part-time “shop specialists”[ads1]; will win full-time status, while the entire union won the right to establish a “landmark” safety committee.

“The union was able to secure major gains for part-time workers who make up the majority of the bargaining unit,” UFCW officials said in an early morning announcement.

In a statement, Cub officials said they were “pleased” to have reached an agreement “that will provide Minneapolis and Cub team members in the west metro area with a historic wage increase and continued comprehensive health and welfare and pension benefits as requested by the union. “

Cub officials added that they care “greatly” for team members “and are excited that our stores will be open and ready to serve our customers and communities throughout the holiday weekend.”

The agreement not only prevents a strike on a traditionally busy weekend, but ends weeks of contentious wrangling between the two parties.

Union members, who have been working since their labor contract expired on March 4, voted Tuesday to authorize a strike, planned to run Friday and Saturday when customers might be buying Easter hams and other trimmings.

Union members insisted they had sacrificed much to keep shops humming during a hectic pandemic that exposed staff to difficult working conditions and illness. It also prevented them from seeing vulnerable loved ones. Some members noted that any hero pay they had received in bursts had stopped long ago.

Last week, the union also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair labor conditions in which Cub targeted workers with interrogations, threats and other “coercive acts.”

Cub officials denied the allegations and questioned whether the filing was a tactic designed to prevent management from calling in permanent replacements.

Cub — which Rhode Island-based wholesale specialist United Natural Foods Inc. bought in 2018 as part of its Supervalu acquisition — owns 33 stores in the Twin Cities area, but there are many more franchise-operated stores.

The franchise stores are not part of the union agreement and were not part of the call to strike.

The 33 striking stores were mostly suburban, including locations in St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Blaine, Lakeville, Maple Grove, Eagan and Fridley. Cub stores in Uptown and near Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis were also on the list.

Neither the Cubs nor the union provided further comment on the deal.

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