Frattallone’s Hardware employees in Circle Pines seek union recognition

Employees at a north metro hardware store have announced their intent to form a union.

Frattallone’s Hardware & Garden in Circle Pines sent a letter on Wednesday requesting that Frattallone’s and the chain’s new owner, Central Network Retail Group, recognize the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board of Workers United as the exclusive bargaining agent for all hourly store employees, excluding drivers and supervisors.

"… We take pride in the work we do, and feel that we provide real value to Frattallone’s Hardware, CNRG and parent company Orgill Inc.," the letter states. "Unfortunately, we feel that our loyalty and commitment to the company isn’t always reciprocated."

In November, Tennessee-based CNRG purchased all 22 Frattallone’s Hardware & Garden locations — then operating as Ace Hardware stores. Until then, Frattallone’s locations had been family-owned and operated. The deal brought CNRG’s portfolio to 139 home improvement stores across 19 states.

Employees are seeking higher wages to keep up with inflation and the cost of living in the Twin Cities. The letter highlights the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates two working adults in the metro area would have to make roughly $23 an hour each to support a family of four.

"In short, the prices of everything … keep going up, and we are having real trouble making ends meet with what we earn at Frattallone’s," the letter states.

Frattallone’s union spokesperson Mike Carlson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that the push toward unionizing had been in discussion for the past several weeks and that seeking voluntary union recognition was the first step toward organizing. Store employees have not signed union cards or taken a formal vote, Carlson said.

Circle Pines employees are seeking a response to their demand for union recognition by Jan. 3.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to Mike Frattalone, Frattallone’s Hardware head of operations, and CNRG for comment.