Around 180 workers at Seward Community Co-op, which has three locations in the Minneapolis area, will receive raises of at least $5 over three years under a tentative agreement reached late Wednesday, averting a planned strike.
Workers at the co-op had authorized an unfair labor practices strike on Tuesday, but United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 had said negotiations were ongoing.
The union, in a statement, said the tentative agreement—scheduled for a ratification vote on Monday—"provides livable wages, pay equity and more secure benefits."
In addition to raises, the new contract also combines paid time off and sick time.
"We are proud to recommend this tentative agreement to our coworkers," UFCW Local 663 said. "We are excited to work for this co-op and live our values. Co-op values are union values, and together we are stronger."
The union said it has agreed to drop its unfair labor practices filing against Seward Community Co-op management now that an agreement has been reached.
The move comes after workers “voted overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike if needed, the union said, noting that, “Seward Co-op has engaged in unfair labor practices meant to stop us from exercising our rights despite our dedicated efforts to serve member-owners every day.”
Co-op management, in an e-mail to WGB on Wednesday before the agreement was announced, said it was optimistic common ground could be achieved.
"We are hopeful that we will be able to come to an agreement that will provide the best possible workplace experience while also ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of our community-owned co-op," the co-op said.
UFCW Local 663 previously said it had filed charges against Seward Community Co-op for “unilateral changes in the contract, retaliation and bargaining in bad faith.” Workers there had been without a collective bargaining agreement since August 21.
Seward Community Co-op began in 1972, and in 2022, it added 947 new owners to its cooperative. “Now more than 23,000 households are directly invested as member-owners in Seward Co-op’s success,” the co-op said on its website.
Minnesota-based UFCW Local 663 has been busy this year as workers at Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods and Kowalski’s Markets have all undertaken unfair labor practice strike votes, but, in all cases, the union eventually reached agreements with grocery management, all of which included significant hourly pay increases.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with news of a tentative agreement between Seward Community Co-op and UFCW Local 663.