On Sunday members of Lunds & Byerlys grocery stores ratified a three-year contract for more than 2,100 families in the Twin Cities. With the ratified Lunds & Byerlys contract 2018 promises to be a year rooted in increased benefits for grocery store workers all over Minneapolis and western suburbs. This victory follows a significant year for organizing as employees of Seward Community Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op and Eastside Food Co-op all voted by wide margins to be represented by UFCW Local 653.
Both part-time and full-time workers at Lunds & Byerlys will receive raises each year of the contract.
“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, part-time in the produce department of Lunds & Byerlys in Minnetonka.
The largest number of workers to see changes are those considered part-time “Group 3”. The new contract moves all “Group 3” workers up to part-time food handlers. This move makes them regular part-time, guaranteeing workers and their families increased take-home pay as well as: three weeks paid vacation after eight years, six national holidays, bereavement leave for domestic partners, and dental, vision, life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance. In total, 616 workers will now be receiving these benefits.
“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 Burnsville Lunds & Byerlys, Heintz is one of the previous Group 3 workers who will now become a regular part-time employee.
Overall, workers will also enjoy expanded non-discrimination language that covers gender, gender identification, pregnancy, Veterans and criminal record after employment.
“I applaud our members for saying yes by voting in this new three-year contract. 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,” said Matt Utecht, UFCW Local 653 President.
Supervalu Cub Foods and Kowalski’s are in ongoing negotiations. The Lunds & Byerlys agreement has set a standard.
“I look at my fellow grocery store workers’ new contract at Lunds & Byerlys and think, I deserve that too. That’s why I’m glad we’re fighting and winning,” said Judi Johnson, who works at Supervalu Cub Foods at the Coon Rapids South location in the floral department.
Melissa Charles, Deli manager at Kowalski’s Market at Lyndale and 54th added, “It’s a fantastic contract. I haven’t seen anything like that in decades. I’m hopeful for the future of Kowalski’s employees. I would love to have that contract. I’m happy for workers at Lunds & Byerlys.”
Heintz reminds bargaining employees that, “as long as you push forward, you will win in the end.”