Kowalski’s, workers reach tentative deal on new contract to avoid strike

Workers at Kowalski’s Market stores will not go on the picket line next week after the grocer and union members agreed to terms on a new contract.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 announced Friday the two parties reached a tentative deal that includes raises for more than 600 part-time and full-time employees and preserves the workers’ health care.

“We secured our Union Healthcare, won historic wage increases, pay equity and secured our retirement,” Jacob Stromquist, produce manager at the Lyndale Kowalski’s store, said in a statement. “I’m proud to be a UFCW Local 663 member and Kowalski’s employee.”

Prior to the deal, union members at six Kowalski’s locations — Hennepin, Lyndale, Parkview, Eagan, Eden Prairie and Excelsior — were slated to walk off the job Aug. 4-6. The union’s contract had expired in March.

“We are happy to say that we reached a tentative agreement today,” Kowalski’s Chief Operating Officer Mike Oase said in a statement. “In addition to significant wage increases for our employees it also includes a commitment by both sides to improve health care costs and benefits for our employees which is also very important to our company.”