News and Updates
March 12, 2018
Local 653 Members at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s and Independent Grocers in Minnesota Ratify New Contracts
On March 4, members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Supervalu Cub Foods, Kowalski’s Markets and independent grocers approved multi-year contracts with their employers that build better lives for more than 4,000 families in the Twin Cities.
Benefit highlights include the creation of an industry-wide groundbreaking Variable Annuity Pension Plan (VAP). Employees from Supervalu and the independent grocers will transition benefit accruals from the current defined benefit plan to the VAP beginning in January 2019.
Workers at Kowalski’s who qualify for the 401(k)-retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and the company. These include full-time contributions from $1.85-$4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Employees at Supervalu Cub Foods have agreed to a five-year contract. Employees at Kowalski’s have agreed to a three-year contract, as well as employees from Haug’s (Cub), Radermacher’s (Cub), King’s Andover, Jubilee Foods in Mound, Oxendale’s and Driskill’s. Employees at Almsted’s Fresh Market and Knowlan’s Festival Foods have agreed to a two-year agreement.
All of the contracts provide wage increases for all workers. Both part-time and full-time workers at Supervalu Cub will receive raises each year of the five-year contract. The average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers at Supervalu is $8,582.03.
Additional economic highlights of the contract include improved quality of part-time positions at Supervalu and Kowalski’s, including three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six paid national holidays, paid bereavement, and Jury Duty leave. Additionally, Supervalu will provide ancillary benefits to all part-time workers that include dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
All eligible workers will enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increase true cost of the Health & Welfare plan across contracts.
The total worker compensation of the Supervalu contract is over $102 million in the first year alone.
All workers covered under the approved contracts will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved language, including respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“One of the things that sticks with me is that all of the agreements added respect and dignity in the workplace language. That language levels the playing field for workers, and affirms we are the most valuable asset. I’m proud of that,” said Elizabeth Johnson of Kowalski’s in Uptown.
“I’m inspired by our members today who said yes to improving the quality of their livelihoods and future. We’re continuing to build better lives for our retail grocery members and elevate the industry while doing so,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “The Variable Annuity Pension Plan is the vehicle to reach the retirement security that our members earn and deserve. Together, we’re leading the industry in pension solutions that establish the goal of a dignified retirement.”
March 12, 2018
The three-year and four-month agreement raises starting wages to at least $10 per hour and accelerates wage progressions to $11 per hour after one year of service. The agreement also includes affordable health care, and continued investments in the workers’ pension fund.
“UFCW Local 75 strives to negotiate contracts that secure better wages and affordable benefits, providing a voice for hard-working men and women and strengthening our communities, and this contract does those important things,” said UFCW Local 75 President Kevin Garvey.
March 5, 2018
On Feb. 25, 1,600 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Jerry’s Enterprises, Inc. grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new three-year contract that includes better wages and benefits. Jerry’s Enterprises operates 13 Cub Foods, two Jerry’s Foods, and Richfield Rainbow Foods stores.
Melanie Millner, a deli manager at Minneapolis Lake Street Jerry’s Cub said, “I’m proud of the working relationship we have as a union with Jerry’s. I’m excited to see the results of higher wages with my coworkers. I know it will bring better morale and retention in our stores and it is going to make a difference in families’ wallets.”
Both part-time and full-time workers at Jerry’s will receive raises each year of the contract.
The contract improves the quality of part-time positions, and includes increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
Workers will also enjoy a secured employer commitment to pay the increased true cost of the Health & Welfare plan.
“The Health & Welfare we negotiated is a substantial savings to our families, especially the way health insurance costs are rising nowadays,” said Bill Jensen, a meat cutter at Elk River Cub Foods.
Employers will contribute a union negotiated rate into a 401(k) for eligible employees. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 and part-time is $1.35 an hour. UFCW Local 653 has also secured two plan trustees.
Workers will enjoy improved treatment and worker protections in the workplace with new and improved contract language that addresses respect and dignity in the workplace, bereavement leave for domestic partners, victim, witness, and domestic abuse leave, student seniority, and automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology will be implemented in the store.
“I’m really happy that language around respect and dignity is now a part of our agreement. Hard working families come first, and I’m glad that language reflects our shared values,” said Nate McClerin, part-time Deli worker at West Broadway Cub Foods.
“I’m proud our members with Jerry’s voted yes to building better lives for themselves and their families. A sincere thank you to our union bargaining committee who worked together with Jerry’s. Together with the recent Lunds & Byerlys contract, we continue to improve the quality of life for working families in Minnesota,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht.
February 20, 2018
More than 2,100 members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Lunds & Byerlys grocery stores in Minneapolis and nearby suburbs ratified a new contract on Feb. 11. The three-year agreement includes an increase in wages and better benefits, and the total economic value of the contract is over $60 million over the first year alone.
The new agreement raises wages for part-time and full-time workers during each year of the contract, and the average wage increase over the three-year contract for all workers is $3,708.89.
“This raise will provide more financial stability and economic independence for myself and my family. Since I’m part-time, making more money and only having to work one job makes me worry less each month. It means a lot,” said Taddeo Balma, who works in the produce department of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnetonka.
The contract increases the number and security of full-time positions, and improves the quality of part-time positions. Five hundred and fifteen workers will become regular part-time, which guarantees them increased take home pay, as well as three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave for domestic partners, jury duty, and ancillary benefits that include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance.
“When you are part-time, it comes down to the bottom line. I’m on Medicare, and the dental ancillary benefit is huge. It adds a tremendous value to my life,” said Mary Heintz of the Burnsville Lunds & Byerlys, who will now become a regular part-time employee.
Workers who qualify for the 401(k) retirement program will continue to receive contributions that were negotiated between the union and Lunds & Byerlys. These include full-time contributions from $2 to $4 an hour and part-time is $1.35 an hour.
Workers will also enjoy expanded non-discrimination language that covers gender, gender identification, pregnancy, veterans, and criminal record after employment. Employees who return on breaks from high school and college will retain seniority. New to the contract is automation language that gives notice to employees and training opportunities if any technology is implemented in the store.
“I applaud our members for saying ‘yes’ by voting in this new three-year contract,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “In the 37 years that I have been with Local 653, this contract brings the most dramatic improvements to the most workers that I’ve ever seen. I’m proud that our union bargaining committee worked together with Lunds & Byerlys to make so many working families’ lives better.”
January 2, 2018
Members of UFCW Local 653 who work at Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis ratified their first union contract on Dec. 14. The three-year contract includes raises for all employees and establishes a just cause discipline procedure. The Eastside Food Co-op employees voted to join UFCW Local 653 last April.
Eastside Co-op workers were excited about their first union contract.
“With this agreement, we won a stronger voice in the everyday conditions that impact our work environment and our experience working at Eastside—more equitable wages, adequate staffing and training, and timely addressing labor and safety concerns,” said Seth Kuhl-Stennes.
“I’m excited that we’re going to be paid based on our experience, our knowledge and the time we’ve been working here making Eastside successful,” said D.K. Prince.
“I know that we’re leaving a better co-op for future employees and for the community. I think it’s important to work at a place that values workers’ voices,” said M.J. Banken.
Community support for Eastside Food Co-op workers has been steady throughout the bargaining process. “As a longtime member of Eastside Food Co-op, a former EFC board member, and a union member, I am very excited that the workers here will be ratifying their first contract. The success of our co-op is due in large part to the workers’ dedication and hard work, and this contract will ensure that they are treated fairly and with respect. This is truly co-op values in action,” said Joy Anderson.
“I am inspired by the Eastside Food Co-op workers courage to stand up,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “Our union family is proud to help everyone at Eastside to improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”
December 11, 2017
On Dec. 6, 2,696 UFCW Local 152 members who work at ShopRite stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin. The workers are employed in the meat, seafood, deli and prepared foods divisions of ShopRite.
The five-year contract includes wage and pension increases. The agreement also includes health insurance premium increases for the duration of the contract.
“I am very pleased to secure a new five-year contract extension that runs through 2022,” said UFCW Local 152 President Brian String. “The contract contains a guarantee of 40 percent increases in contributions, if needed, to fund the health and welfare benefits through that time. We also secured wage increases for every year of the contract, as well as increases into the pension plan every year. Language changes resolved outstanding issues regarding overtime and proper payment, and the contract vote was nearly unanimous for an outstanding agreement.”
November 13, 2017
On Nov. 6, approximately 4,200 members of UFCW Local 400, who work at 39 Kroger stores in West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky, voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new contract. The contract, which takes effect immediately and extends through August 29, 2020, provides increased pay and maintains healthcare and retirement benefits.
Contract negotiations between UFCW Local 400 and Kroger began in early September, and a team of five Kroger employees led negotiations on behalf of the union. At a time when many retailers are cutting healthcare and retirement benefits, the unionized workforce successfully preserved their benefits while also winning wage increases. The workers attribute their success to weeks of public demonstrations held during the negotiation process.
“I think we made it clear to the company that we were willing to fight to protect our benefits,” said Tami Faulknier, a 34-year Kroger employee who served on the union negotiating team.
“Our customers were overwhelmingly supportive and I think that helped a lot,” said Allen Nuckels, a Kroger grocery clerk from Oak Hill, West Virginia. “I lost count of how many times someone saw us at a rally and stopped to ask me, ‘Are you guys on strike? Because I won’t cross a picket line!’”
“These days, it is extremely rare to ratify a contract without losing a single benefit,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “I cannot overstate how much the support of Kroger customers and the rest of the community made a difference in these negotiations. Together, we were able to preserve healthcare and retirement benefits that thousands of hard-working men and women rely on.”
October 23, 2017
After months of negotiations, around 7,300 Food 4 Less workers in Southern California, who are members of UFCW Locals 8GS, 135, 324, 770, 1167, 1428 and 1442, ratified a new contract by an overwhelming margin on Oct. 17. The workers are employed at about 100 Food 4 Less stores throughout Southern California.
The new three-year contract protects our union-sponsored health and welfare and pension plans. The agreement also increases wages, and makes sure our members stay ahead of the minimum wage as it goes up either nationally, statewide, within the county, or locally.
“After six long months of bargaining, the seven locals coordinated together to bargain a great contract for our union family in Southern California,” said Bryan Wynn, director of Region 8. “They stood strong to fight back concessions and to protect the members at Food 4 Less, and I congratulate all of the local union presidents for their leadership and their staff. I’m proud of our members for standing up against our largest employer to make our union family stronger.”
October 2, 2017
Linden Hills Co-op workers in Minneapolis, who are members of UFCW Local 653, ratified their first union contract on Sept. 26. The three-year contract, which began on October 1, includes raises for all employees and paid time off. An overwhelming majority – 85 percent – of Linden Hills Co-op workers voted to join UFCW Local 653 in February of this year.
“By standing together and voting to approve this contract, we’ve improved our lives and jobs. We chose to do this because we’re committed to strengthening our co-op and community because no one deserves to be left behind or struggle alone,” said Evan Adams-Hanson, a front end floor coordinator.
“What we fought for and now have is so real and important to building the better lives we’ve earned and deserve. Our amazing co-op has become even more amazing because we’ll now be able to better serve our community and take care of our families,” said Tracie Lemberg, who works in health and body care.
“As a working parent, having a reasonable and flexible schedule that allows me to spend time with my kids is critical. Thanks to our new union contract, I won’t be penalized for taking time off to attend parent-teacher conferences or caring for my kids when they get sick,” said Heidi Souza, who works in the deli department
“Co-op values are union values, so we feel this contract will only make Linden Hills Co-op and the local community stronger,” said UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht. “I am inspired by the Linden Hills workers’ courage to stand up. Our union family is proud to help everyone at Linden Hills improve their workplace and raise standards for all retail workers in Minnesota.”
October 2, 2017
On Sept. 21, deli workers at Albertsons store #169 in Boise, Idaho, voted to join UFCW Local 368A by an overwhelming margin. The grocery and meat departments in the Albertsons store were already organized by UFCW Local 368A, and union members who work in the store and in neighboring stores in the Treasure Valley played a crucial role by standing in solidarity with the deli workers.
“We are really happy we can now sit down and negotiate with Albertsons over several issues we really care about,” said Andrew Cade, who has worked at the store’s deli since September of 2016. “For some time now, we have seen our coworkers in the same store enjoy the benefits of a union contract, such as affordable healthcare, and now we have a real opportunity to bargain for some of those same things.”
Joshua Barton, a frozen supervisor who served as the union’s observer during the election, noted union members’ encouragement was crucial in helping his coworkers stand for what they deserve.
“We have been talking to them during breaks and after shifts about the fact that they, too, have a right to organize and bargain for what they need, just the way we already do,” Barton said.