Kowalski’s Employees Avert Potential Strike

Union members will receive raises and improved health-care benefits
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
Kowalski's union employees at six locations have reached a deal with the grocer for higher wages.

Minneapolis-based Kowalski’s Markets and its union workers at six stores have reached an agreement that will keep workers from going on strike. The grocer and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 employees reached a tentative deal that will give more than 600 part-time and full-time employees raises and also improve their health care.

Union workers at the grocer’s Eagan, Eden Prairie, Excelsior, Minneapolis Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis Lyndale Avenue and Minneapolis Chicago Avenue locations had been without a collective bargaining agreement since March, and were set to hit the picket line for three days starting Aug. 4.

[Read more: "EXCLUSIVE: The Secrets to Kowalski’s Markets’ Success as a Women-Owned Business"]

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

“We are happy to say that we reached a tentative agreement today,” said Kowalski’s COO Mike Oase. “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.”

Elsewhere in the Twin Cities, Lunds & Byerlys union members voted on July 1 to ratify a new two-year contract with the grocer. According to UFCW Local 663, the contract will bring historic wage increases and pay equity to its members.

The agreement covers 2,500 workers at 22 Lunds & Byerlys locations throughout the Twin Cities, and will allow for raises of $3 to $4 an hour by spring 2024. The union also shared that part-time courtesy and custodial workers will receive wage increases under the new contract.

Operating 11 stores across the Twin Cities, Woodbury, Minn.-based Kowalski’s was founded in 1983 by Mary Anne and the late Jim Kowalski, and is currently run by Mary Anne and her daughter, CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen. Family-owned Lunds & Byerlys operates 28 locations throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding region.

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