June 24, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
St Paul, Minn – Grocery workers in St. Paul and the east side of the Twin Cities metropolitan area overwhelmingly voted down a proposed contract with several supermarket chains June 17.
Workers thought the raises the companies were offering were too small, said Bernie Hesse, political director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1189, and the union also wants the employers to contribute more to its health plan. “They did put some money on the table—15 cents here, a quarter there—but we're saying that's not enough,” Hesse said. “None of the stores are claiming poverty.” The negotiations involve about 3,600 workers at chains such as Cub, Rainbow, Lunds & Byerlys, and Kowalski's. Hesse said he was surprised that 4% of the members had voted yes, but that a “consumer campaign” or protests in front of stores would be more likely than a strike in the near future. Read more