On August 19, members of UFCW Local 663 who work at three Seward Community Co-op stores in south Minneapolis ratified a new contract that improves benefits and raises wages to $15 per hour two years before the city’s minimum wage ordinance goes into effect.
The three-year contract includes a $15 per hour starting wage scale that goes into effect on August 21, 2020 and additional paid time off for members beginning on January 4, 2021. This is a significant win for these members, who are essential workers during this pandemic.
The impact of the $15 an hour wage scale at the three Seward Community Co-op stores means that upon ratification, approximately 56 percent of current employees will receive a pay raise of $1.50 an hour, and about 20 percent 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 contract.
The contract also includes three additional days of paid time off. Beginning on January 4, 2021, sick and safe time will accrue separately from paid time off. Sick and safe time accrual will cap at 80 hours and excess accrued sick and safe time will be transferred to paid time off accrual. All paid time off will be carried over year to year with a cap at 320 hours.
Members at the Seward Community Co-op stores are excited about the new contract.
“I enjoy working at the co-op and I’m really happy about our vote,” said Annesah Amatullah, a part-time cashier. “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.”
“This contract is a big win for all of us! Personally, I will enjoy three more days of paid time off,” said Jon Houston, a production data analyst, and a member of the union bargaining committee. “I’m thinking about next summer, and planning to take a whole month off. I’ve never done that my whole adult life.”
“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,” said UFCW Local 663 President Matthew Utecht. “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,” Utecht added. “Congratulations again to our members for affirming their pursuit for building better lives.”