Workers at Seward Coop’s three locations are celebrating their decision Thursday to join United Food & Commercial Workers Local 653. Ninety-four percent of those who voted in the election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board supported union representation.
Some 300 Seward Co-op workers will be included in the bargaining unit.
The win means that all food coops in Minneapolis are organized. Earlier campaigns were conducted at Eastside Coop, Linden Hills and The Wedge.
“This means that workers and management will sit across the table and build on the accountability, bargain for wages, fair pay, health and welfare, equality, and insure respect and dignity in the workplace for all workers,” said Amber Young, a leader in the campaign at Seward’s Franklin Ave. store.
“We are happy to be moving forward together – workers and management – because we’re committed to making the Coop a better place for both customers and the dedicated people who work at the Seward.”
“I really look forward to having a collective voice here at the coop,” said Bailey Lutz, a front-of-the-house lead at the Coop Creamery Café.
“It’s a wonderful feeling and I cannot be prouder of my co-workers today!” said Max Storey, an employee at Seward’s Friendship store on E. 38th St.
The campaign included a march to Seward’s three locations and a visit by state Rep. Ilhan Omar, DFL-Minneapolis.
At a news conference Friday with the workers, Seward General Manager Sean Doyle thanked the workers’ organizing committee “for helping to create a fair and reasonable neutrality agreement” for the vote.
“Yesterday’s vote by staff demonstrates the importance of democracy as they expressed their fundamental right to be represented by a union,” Doyle said. “Employees have made their decision, as is their right, which is no different than our right to form a cooperative …
“I think I can safely say we all want the best for our coop. We all share a deep passion for our ends of sustaining a healthy community with equitable economic relationships, positive environmental impacts and inclusive, socially responsible practices.”
UFCW Local 653 President Matt Utecht welcomed the Seward workers, saying, “You have over 10,000 new brothers and sisters with Local 653.”
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.