FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 13
Contact: Jessica Hayssen
United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 union members at Tony Downs Foods in Madelia vote overwhelmingly to accept four-year contract
Madelia, MN—-Today, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 union members who work at Tony Downs Foods in Madelia voted to accept a four-year union contract that provides higher wages, better health benefits, a more secure retirement plan, and worker protections for over 300 workers.
Tony Downs Foods in Madelia is the largest employer in Madelia. Workers perform food processing duties in the plant.
“I’m happy for the raises we were able to get as a union. I’ve worked non-union jobs before and have come back to Tony Downs because it’s a union company that supports the community with good jobs,” said William Castro, a forklift operator who has worked at Tony Downs Foods for 15 years.
The contract represents a big economic win for families in Madelia and surrounding area. Over the life of the four-year contract, workers will receive a total of a 12 percent increase in base pay and 401(k) contributions combined.
By negotiating higher wages and benefits for unionized workers, non-union workers in the meat-packing and food processing industry have more opportunities for increased wages and benefits because an improved economy benefits all participants. Workers at Tony Downs Foods in Madelia have a guarantee of increased wages and benefits because they voted on a legally binding contract where they have it in writing. Non-union workplaces do not have those guarantees in writing.
The contract will be active from October 1, 2019-September 30, 2023 and union members will receive retro-active pay from October 1 as well as a sign-on (or ratification) bonus. Other highlights of the contract include:
- Raises each year of the contract
- Increases in life insurance benefit
- A better 401(k) plan–Tony Downs Foods will make a matching contribution based on eligibility and 3-year vesting
- Improvements in Vacation Scheduling that make it easier for work-life planning
“I love where I live. My family and I have lived here my whole life and raised my family here. I’m going to retire here. I’m glad that I have the option to not only contribute to my 401(k) but that now my employer is going to contribute, making my retirement options even more secure,” said Jose Cruz Molina, who works second shift maintenance at the plant.
UFCW Local 663 President Matt Utecht says of the win:
“I congratulate our UFCW union family in Madelia who worked together and secured a great four-year contract for their co-workers at the plant. We work together and have each other’s backs. We know our rights, we stand up for them together, and get them in writing.
The meat packing and food processing industry is dangerous. And it’s hard work. We, as workers, are more productive for our employers than ever before. The fact remains that many of us are constantly being undervalued, told that we are replaceable, and that we don’t deserve better. And that’s not true, no matter where you live or work.
When you have not only yourself, but all of your co-workers standing with you as a union, we are able to have the collective strength to work together and come to an agreement like we did at Tony Downs Foods in Madelia. By working as a union and negotiating with the employer we can win more together.”
United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 663 is also represents workers in Butterfield, MN at a Tony Downs poultry processing plant, as well as JBS in Worthington, MN.
Last year, United Food and Commercial Workers Locals 1161 in Southwest Minnesota and Local 653 in the Twin Cities membership voted to merge. The new Local 663, led by President Matt Utecht, is the largest UFCW Local in the five state area with over 13,100 members throughout Minnesota and Iowa.
UFCW Local 663 is a private and public sector union over 13,100 workers in Minnesota and Iowa in the grocery, meat packing, food processing, retail, healthcare and other industries.