Cub Foods and parent United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) reached a tentative agreement with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 that calls off a planned strike by about 3,000 workers that would have started Friday at 33 Cub stores in the Twin Cities area.
UFCW Local 663 reported that the deal would bring raises of $2.50 to $3.50 an hour by the spring of 2024 and establish what it termed as a “landmark” safety committee. The union said it also garnered wins for part-time workers, who account for most of the bargaining unit, and about 300 people now classified as “retail specialists” will shift to a new role dubbed “classified assistants,” bringing them the security of a full-time position.
Published reports said the accord was reached soon after midnight. Plans call for the union’s bargaining committee to hold a ratification vote Tuesday.
“This is a union of people who sacrificed beyond imagination to keep Minnesotans fed during the pandemic. It is no surprise, then, that these grocery workers were able to organize the most powerful contract campaign the Twin Cities grocery industry has seen in decades,” UFCW Local 663 President Rena Wong said in a statement. “The bargaining committee believes that this tentative agreement respects, protects and pays our members fairly. We look forward to sharing the agreement with the thousands of UFCW Local 663 members and continuing to welcome new members who are working to organize their own workplaces.”
UNFI/Cub Foods couldn’t immediately be reached by Winsight Grocery Business for comment. However, the company provided a statement on the tentative pact with the union to the media.
“Cub is pleased to announce it has reached a tentative agreement for a two-year contract with UFCW Local 663 that will provide Minneapolis and west metro-area Cub team members with historic wage increases and continued comprehensive health and welfare and retirement benefits as requested by the union,” UNFI/Cub said in the statement. “The tentative agreement will need to be ratified by Local 663 members during a vote to be held next week, but as part of the agreement, Cub team members will return to a normal work schedule tomorrow morning. We care greatly for our Cub team members and are pleased that our stores will be open and ready to serve our customers and communities throughout the holiday weekend.”
With the tentative settlement, Cub avoids a disruption to the busy holiday shopping weekend leading into Easter Sunday. The workers planned to hold the strike from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and picket during the daytime hours at the Cub stores, which are located primarily in Minneapolis and the western suburbs of the Twin Cities.
About 95% of UFCW Local 663 members had voted for the pre-Easter, Friday-Saturday work stoppage—dubbed an “Unfair Labor Practices Strike”—in a Tuesday night vote. The strike would have been a first for the 33 corporate-owned Cub locations.
The UFCW Local 663 members, whose contract expired March 4, sought higher wages and improved benefits and working conditions, especially in the wake of their extra efforts amid high demand during the pandemic and the threat of catching COVID-19.