Bakery Workers are taking their contract fight to UNFI Cub Foods’ customers

If you’d love to shop a Cub that isn’t trying to strip its bakers of their union health and pension benefits, then Bakery Workers Local 22 has a list of stores for you.

The Twin Cities-based has distributed flyers outside dozens of Cub Foods stores owned by United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI) in the Twin Cities area over the last two weeks. Local 22represents 240 bakery workers at 44 UNFI-owned Cub Foods stores.

“We’re not calling for a boycott, but some people we talk to don’t like the news we’re giving them,” Local 22 President Wally Borgan said outside the Har Mar Cub Foods in Roseville yesterday. “So we made a list to make it easy for them to find an alternative shopping site.”

The news bakery workers are giving Cub customers is that UNFI has been demanding, since contract negotiations began last fall, that Local 22 members give up their longstanding, hard-fought health care and pension benefits.

 Bruce Peglow handing out flyers.

“We’re not asking for treasure chests of gold, we just want a fair contract and fair pay increases,” Borgan said.

The union-sponsored health care plan currently in Local 22’s contract covers 100% of expenses after the deductible, and Borgan said out-of-pocket costs are capped at $1,200 per year for workers who utilize a health savings account. UNFI wants bakers to switch to its corporate plan, which caps costs at $12,000 per year and requires workers to cover 20% of premiums, Borgan said.

The union’s pension fund, meanwhile, is fully funded, and Borgan said other Local 22 employers have offered to increase their contributions to the pension in recent negotiations, looking to retain and attract workers during a labor shortage.

Thirty-five members of Local 22 left UNFI Cub stores between October and December 2021, as UNFI’s attempt to strip members of their accrued vacation time set an ominous tone before bargaining even began.

Borgan said vacation hours have been restored for most workers in bargaining, but the early attack prompted Local 22 to ask its international union — the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) — to take the lead in bargaining with UNFI.

“We don’t trust this employer,” Borgan said. “We used to be able to, but it was a different environment back then.”

This is the first round of contract negotiations since UNFI acquired Supervalu in 2018. Not all Cub Foods stores are owned by UNFI, which is why Local 22 is circulating a list of stores that are “not trying to negatively impact workers’ livelihoods,” according to the flyer.

The two sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table in April.

Local 22 is asking supporters to sign a petition calling on UNFI to negotiate a fair contract with its Cub Foods workers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.