Strike threats net big wins for local workers

A strike is a union’s most powerful negotiating tool. Even the threat of a strike can be effective.

Art by Lucy Comer
Art by Lucy Comer

In 2023 Twin Cities union workers won historic gains in pay and benefits. Staff at Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods, and UPS planned to strike. Before their strikes even started, management reached an agreement with their unions. Workers won huge gains in all three cases.

Lunds & Byerlys workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663. They represent 2500 employees who planned to strike at 22 local stores over the July 4 holiday. Before the strike could even start, management surrendered. Workers won average wage increases of $3 to $4 per hour. Also, workers now have a spot on a new committee on pay equity. Workers literally got a seat at the table.

UFCW 663 also represents workers at Cub Foods, about 3000 of them at 33 stores. They planned to strike over the Easter holiday. Cub Foods management gave in to three big demands before the strike could even start. First, staff will see a raise between $2.50 and $3.50 an hour. Second, part-time workers will now have the security of full-time status. Third, workers are getting a safety committee. Just like at Lunds & Byerlys, employees at Cub got a seat at the table.

The Teamsters represent UPS workers. They’re a powerful union that also represents some workers at Hennepin County. Like local grocery workers, UPS staff simply threatened to strike. Management gave in before the strike could even start.

Thanks to the strike threat, drivers will now earn $170,000 a year. They’ll also get another $50,000 worth of benefits, including health and pension contributions. Even part-time workers saw big gains. Part-time UPS employees will now start at $25.75 an hour.

Workers at Lunds & Byerlys, Cub Foods, and UPS didn’t miss a single day of work. They just let management know they’d strike if they had to. That was enough to force the employer’s hand.

If we show the boss we’re ready to strike, we can win big too.

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