FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
CONTACT: Jessica Hayssen
Collective Bargaining Agreement leads the Twin Cities’ unionized grocers locking in $15 starting wage
Minneapolis –Today, members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 663 at Seward Community Co-op ratified their second union contract, solidifying a $15 an hour starting wage scale that goes into effect on August 21, 2020 and additional paid time off (PTO) for members beginning on January 4, 2021. This is a significant win for grocery workers, who are essential workers during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The impact of the $15 an hour wage scale at Seward means that upon ratification, approximately 56% of current employees will receive a pay raise of $1.50 an hour, and about 20% of current employees will receive a pay raise of $1 an hour or more. To help balance the increase in cost of living per year, the agreement includes guaranteed pay increases for members based on years of service every year of the three year contract.
Another achievement Local 663 members gain is three additional days of PTO. Beginning on January 4, 2021, sick and safe time (SST) will accrue separately from PTO. SST accrual will cap at 80 hours and excess accrued SST will be transferred to PTO accrual. All PTO will be carried over year to year with a cap at 320 hours.
Annesah Amatullah, a part-time cashier at the Friendship location, is happy about the pay raises and said:
“I enjoy working at the Co-op and I’m really happy about our vote. Raising the minimum wage at Seward shows me that my work is important and that I’m valued as an employee. It also helps with less turnover because we’re making enough and don’t have to look elsewhere for better pay. Making more means I don’t have to pick up extra hours and allows me to spend more time with my son.”
Jon Houston, Production Data Analyst, and a member of the union bargaining committee, said, “This contract is a big win for all of us! Personally, I will enjoy three more days of PTO. I’m thinking about next summer, and planning to take a whole month off. I’ve never done that my whole adult life.”
Matthew Utecht, president of Local 663 said, “I applaud our union members at Seward that served on the union bargaining committee and Seward management for arriving at the $15 an hour starting wage two years ahead of becoming the law in Minneapolis.
“Our Union is proud to have partnered in a large community coalition while working together during the citywide push for $15 in 2017 because we believe everyone deserves a higher minimum wage. The collective bargaining agreement with Seward Community Co-op builds upon that work, and sets higher minimum standards to protect and value each other at work, and that is important.
“The new wage scale will change workers’ lives, especially since Minnesota grocery workers have been on the frontlines of COVID-19 since day one, and continue to put their lives on the line every day at work to serve their communities.
“Congratulations again to our members for affirming their pursuit for building better lives.”
UFCW Local 663 represents more than 13,200 hard-working retail, meat packing and processing, food preparation and manufacturing, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota and Iowa. We strive to improve the lives of our members and of all working families by fighting for economic, political, and social justice in our workplaces and communities. UFCW Local 663 is part of the 1.3 million-member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.