Lunds & Byerlys workers may go on strike if deal can't be reached

Workers at Lunds & Byerlys say they're ready to strike if they can't agree on a new contract. 

UFCW Local 663, which represents thousands of workers, says employees have been working without a contract since March 7. Last week, after months of failed contract talks, more than 2,500 employees at 22 Lunds & Byerlys stores across the metro voted overwhelmingly in favor of holding an unfair labor practices strike. Members are fighting for better wages, pay equity, and to maintain worker-driven healthcare. 

If the workers do strike, it could be a huge disruption for grocery shoppers in the Twin Cities metro. If a deal isn't reached, workers would strike June 29, June 30 and July 1.

In a statement, the union's bargaining committee said: 

"Our coworkers demonstrated the power that comes from standing together against company intimidation. Lunds & Byerlys has engaged in unfair labor practices meant to stop us from exercising our rights despite our tireless efforts to serve customers every day–throughout the pandemic and beyond. As a bargaining committee, we know that the decision to call a strike is always a last resort, however, we refuse to continue to be bullied by our employer. A family owned, hometown hero such as Lunds & Byerlys should surely understand that this type of behavior has a negative impact on workers, customers and the communities we are proud to serve. We look forward to meeting Lunds & Byerlys at the table on Monday to bargain in good faith for a contract that reflects the members hard work."

Earlier this year, Cub Foods workers were going to go on strike, but they reached a deal before their planned strike. 

Lunds & Byerlys statement

In a statement to FOX 9, Lunds & Byerlys said:

"Lunds & Byerlys deeply values every team member and that is reflected in the numerous proposals we have put forth during our bargaining process with UFCW Local 663. 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. Some of those benefits include quicker access to coverage, tiered coverage options, and greater wage replacement under short-term disability. The company-sponsored plan also extends new benefit options such as flexible spending accounts, supplemental life insurance and long-term disability coverage. 

"As we seek to find common ground with the union, we recently updated our proposal to provide an opportunity to make much-needed improvements to the current multiemployer healthcare plan. If the improvements are not made, then our team members would have the opportunity to vote to stay on the multiemployer healthcare plan or move to our plan. The union has opposed that proposal as well. We continue to believe our team members who are members of 663 deserve better healthcare. We are disappointed the union chose to take a strike authorization vote as we remain hopeful progress can be made toward a mutually beneficial agreement. 

"If a strike were to occur, we will implement our contingency plans so we can continue to provide exceptional service to customers at all of our stores. Customers can stay informed of any adjustments to our store operations on our social media channels or by visiting Lunds & Byerlys has a long and rich history of partnering with labor unions while proactively proposing wages and benefits that have continued to set industry standards. Throughout those many decades, we have always been able to reach mutual agreement. We remain committed to working with the union to again find common ground."