MINNEAPOLIS — Union officials representing thousands of Cub Foods grocery workers say its members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, citing unfair labor practices.
UFCW Local 663 leaders went live on Facebook just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, saying that more than 94% of the ballots cast throughout the day were in favor of striking. The union, which represents 3,000 workers, said members have been working without a contract since March 4.
Following the results, the union said it will announce its next steps Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at Cub Foods in Maple Grove.
Union members are demanding better wages and better protections for workers, and allege that UNFI Corporate Cub Foods interfered with employees "exercising their rights to participate in protected concerted activity," interrogated employees about union activity and illegally surveyed union activity.
"They want to stick us with 2018 wages in a time when we have a lot of inflation and things cost a lot more than they did in 2018," said Lauren Booth, a union member and Dairy/Frozen Foods manager at Cub.
As part of negotiations on a two-year contract, the grocery workers union proposed a two-year increase of $4 per hour for full-time workers, $2 in the first year and $2 in the second. Cub returned with a $2.75 per hour increase, with a $1.50 per hour increase in the first year and a $1.25 increase in the second year.
The following stores will be impacted if workers strike:
- North Minneapolis
- Apple Valley
- Blaine North
- Blaine South
- Blaine West
- Brooklyn Park North
- Brooklyn Park South
- Burnsville Heart of the City
- Burnsville South
- Coon Rapids South
- Eagan East
- Eagan North
- Eagan West
- Lakeville North
- Lakeville South
- Lakeville West
- Maple Grove
- New Brighton
- Plymouth Vicksburg Ln N
- Rockford Road
- St. Anthony
- St Louis Park Uptown
- St Louis Park West End
Before results of Tuesday's vote came down, Cub Foods shared this statement with KARE 11:
"Cub cares greatly about its team members and has negotiated diligently and in good faith with UFCW local union #663 to finalize a new collective bargaining agreement. As part of its current offer, Cub has proposed historic wage increases and agreed to ongoing union health and pension plans on terms specifically requested by the union.
We’re deeply disappointed that the union elected to spend today taking a strike authorization vote instead of using that time to meet with us to reach an agreement on terms for a new contract. It is our strong hope that the union will choose to continue negotiations rather than pursue a strike. In the event there is a strike, we are prepared to implement contingency plans to ensure the continued availability of the products and services our guests have come to count on from Cub."
University of St. Thomas Law professor Charles Reid told KARE 11 that if a strike date is set, it would be likely that both sides would continue to try to negotiate before a walkout happens.
"I think at this point, it's probably one more step in the negotiating process," Reid said.
Unlike recent strike votes by nurses, teachers and airline employees, there is no cooling-off period mandated by law in the case of Cub workers.
"I would be surprised if they're on strike two days after the authorization, but it can happen," he said.
The next bargaining session between the union and UNFI is slated for April 11.
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