Union members authorize strike at Seward Community Co-op

Union members at the Seward Community Co-op voted to authorize a strike on Tuesday.

According to a news release from United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 union members, employees at Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis voted to approve a strike on the grounds of Unfair Labor Practices.

In a statement, the union’s bargaining committee told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that it views a strike as a “last resort” but hopes the co-op’s management will bargain in good faith. No strike date has been set, yet.

“Today, our coworkers voted and stood together to demonstrate our power as a union, and we voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if needed.

“Seward Coop has engaged in unfair labor practices meant to stop us from exercising our rights despite our dedicated efforts to serve member-owners every day.

“As a bargaining committee, we know that the decision to call a strike is always a last resort.  However, we refuse to be intimidated by our employer. As a business that talks about equity, Seward surely should understand our need to lift up our communities, our member-owners, and the hard work that we do to keep Seward Coop running.

“We look forward to meeting Seward Coop management at the table tomorrow to bargain in good faith for a contract that reflects our hard work.”

UFCW Local’s 663 member bargaining committee

The news release added that the union has filed charges against the Seward Community Co-op for unilateral changes in the contract, retaliation and bargaining in bad faith. Union members at the co-op have been working without a collective bargaining agreement since Aug. 21.

“We are very sad to hear that UFCW 663 has chosen to initiate a strike authorization vote, especially given the fact that we are together at the┬ábargaining table today,” Seward Co-op management said Wednesday in a statement. “We are hopeful┬áthat we will be able to come to an agreement that will provide the best possible workplace experience while also ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of our community-owned co-op.”