Lunds & Byerlys grocery workers will go on strike unless a contract deal is reached

People in green shirts stand in a line
United Food and Commercial Local 663 President Rena Wong Stands along side Lunds & Byerlys grocery workers outside of Lunds & Byerlys in northeast Minneapolis as they announce strike dates on Monday.
Aaliyah Demry | MPR News

More than 2,500 union members plan to picket outside of 22 Lunds and Byerlys in the west Twin Cities metro Thursday through Saturday, ahead of the 4th of July holiday, a busy weekend for grocery stores.

Members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 are accusing the grocery chain Lunds & Byerlys of unfair labor practices amid contract negotiations.

“This is the first time that workers have authorized a ULP strike and if we cannot get to a fair agreement the first time, I believe that the Lunds & Barleys workers will be going on strike,” said Rena Wong, president of UFCW Local 663.

During a press conference held in front of a Lunds & Byerlys in northeast Minneapolis, workers accused employers of bullying, interrogation and illegal surveillance of union activity. 

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Lunds & Byerlys employee Thomas Steffel said they pride themselves on taking care of customers and want the same treatment from management.

“They enjoy walking in our doors and talking to us directly because we're very approachable and we are there to be that family-owned business that they want us to uphold, and we just want them to uphold that contract in good faith bargaining with us as well,” said Steffel.

Employees are asking for better pay wages, pay equity, and worker-driven health care.

A spokesperson for Lunds & Byerlys said they are disappointed the union is setting a strike date but remain committed to contract negotiations. 

“Our current proposal includes wages that continue to be among the best in our industry and a company-sponsored healthcare plan to provide our team members with lower out-of-pocket expenses and better healthcare benefits,” the statement from the company said.

UFCW Local 663 is the same union that represents workers at Cub Foods who negotiated for better pay earlier this year. Union President Rena Wong said if Cub can meet their employees' needs, Lunds & Byerlys can do the same.

“The workers here are looking for Lunds & Byerlys to be an industry leader right? Cub workers have settled their contract and Lunds & Byerlys prides itself on leading the market and we believe they should the same if not better,” Wong said.

The statement from the company said it has a history of “proactively proposing wages and benefits that have continued to set industry standards.”