Front Lines of the Cub Union Contract Ratification
Last year, we brought you a story from our Employment Supports Department about Sarah and the tough decision she was facing on whether to stay or leave her beloved job at Cub Foods. After 17 years, Sarah was needing more hours and looking for an opportunity that was full-time with benefits. Did Sarah end up staying at Cub? Here is an update on that story.
As you might already know, due to the title of this story, Sarah ended up staying at Cub Foods. After speaking with her new store manager, she was able to maintain and pick-up additional hours allowing her to stay. A few months after deciding to stay, Sarah was asked by her Union Rep if she would be interested in joining the Cub Foods (UNFI) Union Committee to negotiate Cub Food’s new employee contract which was set to expire March 4th, 2023.
The Union Committee was formed in early 2023, with around two to three representatives from all 33 Cub Food stores. Going into it, Sarah said, “I expected it was going to be a lot of long hours. I wasn’t sure about arranging my Metro Mobility rides because the meetings were last minute or would run long.” The initial meetings were every couple of weeks and only lasted around three hours but as the negotiations ramped up, the meetings became more frequent lasting sometimes from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. While these meetings were paid, Sarah was worried how it would affect her work schedule and whether she would be able to pick-up shifts at her Cub Store outside of her meeting commitments. Sarah knew these risks would be worth it to help negotiate a better contract for all Cub employees.
With multiple local grocery store chains having contracts that were expiring in 2023, there was an initial kick-off meeting with all the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663. United Foods and Commercial Workers Local 663 is made up of many local businesses including: Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods and Jerry’s Cub. After this initial meeting, each business than held individual meetings. Sarah said, “With the individual meetings it took awhile because we were basically negotiating our own contracts with our employees.” The committee established their main objectives to focus on in their new contracts: Safety & Security and Wages.
After a few committee meetings and sharing their proposal with Cub Corporate, negotiations were barely moving forward even with the March 4th deadline looming. After passing the March 4th deadline, and Cub workers working without a contract, the Union Committee planned a couple of action days. Sarah participated in one of these days of action that started at the downtown Minneapolis Lunds & Byerlys and ended at the Uptown Cub Foods. Everyone walked with signs as they chanted, “We are the Union, the mighty, mighty Union.” and “Wherever we go, people wanna know, that we are the Union.”
Even after the days of action, negotiations were still at a stalemate. So the Cub Union Committee held a strike vote for all employees. Sarah said, “We had to summon everyone to ask them if they wanted to strike to see what the percentage was. The percentage was really high (nearly 95%) because everyone liked the contract that we made.” After the strike passed, they decided the strike would start Easter weekend, April 5th at 5:30 a.m., nearly one month after their current contract had expired.
Then the night before the strike, Sarah said she was summoned for a meeting. “We didn’t know specifically why we were meeting until we got there.” Around 9:00 p.m., the Union Committee received a faxed proposal from Cub Corporate. At around 2:00 a.m. on April 5th, Corporate and the Union “reached a tentative agreement at basically the 13th hour,” preventing a strike at all 33 stores by a mere 3 hours.
As part of the 2 year contract ratification, Cub will establish a landmark safety committee and provide raises of $2.50 to $3.50 per hour by Spring 2024. This was a huge win especially for part-time workers who make up a majority of the Cub workers. In addition, every single employee within Cub’s 33 stores received a $500 Cub gift card. After the contract was ratified, they held a little celebration to mark the big win. Sarah said, “Things were a little stressful for a bit but I’m happy with the outcome. And when everyone heard about the contract, they were happy about it.”
Since the contract has officially been ratified, Sarah has received her first wage increase and is looking forward to another one in six months. In addition, Sarah has become a Cub celebrity! “I had someone come up to me when I was shopping one day at another Cub with boyfriend to say thank you for representing us all on the Union.” Much deserved praise!
When asked is she would join another committee Sarah said, “Yeah, I actually expressed interest to the Cub president about me being on another committee just because I liked it so much. Even an opportunity to work in the office sometimes instead of always being at the store level.”
Great job Sarah on getting involved in your Union Committee and for all your work on the Cub contract ratification. We are excited to see what your future with Cub holds and we know you will continue to do great things.