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In Minneapolis, Seward Community Co-op union reaches $15 hourly wage deal

The co-op is the first unionized grocery shop in the Twin Cities to secure $15 hourly wages

The Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis now has the highest hourly wages among Twin Cities supermarkets and co-ops with unions. 

The Seward Co-op United Food & Commercial Workers Local 663 on Wednesday ratified their contract for $15 hourly wages, which is effective Friday, Aug. 21.  

This means that nearly half of current employees will receive a pay raise of $1.50 an hour, and around 20 percent of employees will receive an additional $1 or more hourly. The contract includes guaranteed pay increases for workers based on years of service for each year of the three-year contract to balance the annual increase in cost of living, the union wrote in a press release. 

The contract also provides three additional days of paid time off, accrued separately from sick and safe time (another change in the contract), beginning in January. The sick and safe time accrual will be capped at 80 hours, with any excess time transferred to paid time off accrual. The PTO will carry over yearly with a cap at 320 hours. 

This is the union's second contract; the co-op first unionized in 2017. 

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The new agreement ensures protections and benefits for workers not commonly found in other grocery markets. While nearly all supermarkets raised wages by up to $2 hourly when the pandemic began for hazard pay, the only unionized supermarket still doing this is Kowalski's, the Star Tribune reports.

Target, which does not have a union, raised its minimum wage to $15 hourly in July. 

"I applaud our union members at Seward that served on the union bargaining committee and Seward management for arriving at the $15 an hour starting wage two years ahead of becoming the law in Minneapolis," Matthew Utecht, president of Local 663 said in a statement.

The unions at Lunds & Byerly's, Jerry's Foods and Kowalski's are set to negotiate beginning early next year, the Star Tribune reports. 

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