Cub Foods workers take protest to Supervalu shareholders meeting

Categories: News
Protesters say they're doing more work for less money.
It's been nearly two months since a group of disgruntled Cub Foods workers ended a 12-day hunger strike, and they say nothing has been done to improve working conditions.

That same crew of workers is staging a protest today at an Edina shareholders meeting for Supervalu, the parent company for Cub.

Veronica Mendez, one of the leaders of the protesting group, says they've been trying to sit down with Supervalu for a year and a half to hash out widespread worker complaints.

"We have not been able to engage in any meaningful dialogue," says Mendez. "And so we're here today outside of the shareholders meeting to be able to send a message to the shareholders."

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Congressman Keith Ellison is urging Supervalu to meet with workers.
Today's is just the latest in a long series of protests held by the Cub Foods workers. According to protesters, they have been tasked with increasingly demanding and unfair workloads. At the same time, employee pay has been cut significantly.

"We have to clean not only the store but the bathrooms, the break rooms, the deli, the bakery--it's a lot," says Jose Garcia, one Cub Foods worker protesting today, through a translator.

As the workload has increased, Garcia's wage has been cut from $11 to $9 per hour over the years, he says.

This morning, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison released a statement urging Supervalu to sit down with protesters and discuss working conditions.

"It's an injustice that some of these workers are paid so little they cannot afford to buy groceries from the stores they clean, but instead have to rely on the same food pantries their employer donates to," says Ellison. "I urge all parties to come to the table and engage in an honest, open dialogue."

Supervalu didn't return a call for comment this morning, but it appears the ongoing protests have piqued the corporation's attention.

The company recently filed a civil suit against the protesters requesting damages, says Kevin Whelan, spokesman for Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, a workers' rights group and ally of the protesters. Whelan says a lawyer representing the protesters plans to file a motion to dismiss the suit today.

Supervalu also filed a temporary injunction against protesters in attempt to bar them from causing further disruption.

Whelan says the demonstrators have taken steps to comply with the injunction during the protest. The group even rented out a room at the Westin Hotel, where the shareholders meeting is held, to conduct media interviews. But Whalen says they've already been booted out of that room.

"Security is kind of tense here," he says.

Update (12:25):

Grant Stevensen, a pastor supporting the Cub Foods workers, just called us from outside the shareholders meeting.

Stephenson got into the meeting as a proxy for a Supervalu shareholder, he says, and used the scheduled Q & A time to talk about the unfair working conditions for the protesters.

He says his two-minute speech didn't exactly earn a standing ovation, but did appear to get the attention of some sympathetic shareholders in the audience.

"There were a couple of people who actually clapped," he says.

Update (4:30):
Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for Supervalu, called City Pages to respond to comments from protesters. Siemienas notes that the workers who clean Cub Foods floors are actually employed through an independent contractor, not Cub. He also says that Supervalu has been targeted unfairly by "aggressive" protests. Read his full response here.

Previous Coverage:

  • Cub Foods cleaning workers on day five of hunger strike
  • Protesters assaulted by Cub Foods security guard [VIDEO]

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    Fiction certainly is fun. None of these people are actually employed by Cub Foods. They are, in fact, employees of a cleaning company that contracts with Cub Foods. I'm glad City Pages continues to publish sensational non-stories like this. 2 minutes of research will tell you that Cub Foods employes union workers and is one of the most fair companies in the area. Stories like this that spread false information end up driving business away from a responsible corporate citizen. Unfortunately, there's no reason to let facts get in the way of a good smear piece!


    It's even *WORSE* that these people are independent contractors.  That doesn't eliminate Cub from being responsible for the situation.  Why do so many companies insist on using staffing companies to do work that is clearly not a temporary need?  They pay the staffing company a fee to hire the workers, and the staffing company hires them.  They pay them a wage, but do you really think the staffing company doesn't have it's own costs of doing business? Out of that fee Cub foods pays the staffing company to hire workers, they have to pay their own expenses, as well as pay the cleaner, and of course make a profit of their own.

    Do you not see what is wrong with this?  Cub foods and other companies who use staffing companies to hire positions that should be held by an actual employee since they are a permanent need, are the culprits.  That profit and expenses the staffing company takes off the top, should instead be going to the people who are doing the actual work!

    It's not just grocery stores and other menial jobs that commit this travesty, there are so many large corporations who rely on hiring "temps" even though the work they are doing is by definition, not temporary.  Allianz, Best Buy, Wells Fargo, and countless others will hire temps who will do the exact same job as their own employees for as short as 6 months to as long as 3 years before being offered a "promotion" to their own job as an internal employee. 

    Meanwhile, when they are working for the temporary agency, they have a much harder time applying for things such as a car loan, a mortgage, an apartment rental, due to many stigmas associated with working with these companies, and should they be laid off, it takes them 4 extra weeks to receive unemployment benefits at an "employee" would be eligible to receive after only two weeks, so they have to save even MORE money to cover them in the event of a layoff than employee would.

    But I'm sure you'll ignore everything else and go on your own tirade about unemployment benefits themselves.

    Don't be a douche, the people do the work, should be the ones receiving the p off it, not some faceless company who doesn't do anything for the cleaner other than process their applications and give them their paychecks.

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