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Lunds & Byerlys workers ratified a new two-year contract this past weekend without having to follow through on plans to strike ahead of the July 4th holiday.

The 2,500 employees at 22 Lunds & Byerlys stores in the south and west metro voted in favor of the new contract Saturday after its union, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663, came to an agreement with the grocer last week. That came soon after the union had announced plans to strike this past Thursday through Saturday.

The same union represents employees of many Cub stores in the Twin Cities who also planned to strike ahead of the Easter holiday before the parties reached a last-minute agreement.

Members of Local 663 at Lunds & Byerlys will see average raises of $3 to $4 an hour by next spring, the union said.

"This contract is truly historic," Rosemary Luoma, a St. Louis Park Lunds & Byerlys employee, said in a statement. "In the 35 years I've been in the retail grocery industry, I've never seen such a rich contract."

Before the raises, Lunds & Byerlys part-time workers had made $14.50 to $18 an hour, according to the union's website. Traditional full-time employees earned $27.13 an hour.

Under the new contract, all courtesy and custodial employees with five-plus years of service before ratification will receive wage increases of $3 an hour, bringing them closer to the regular part-time scale, the union said. Traditionally, this position had no wage scale.

The union said workers were also able to make steps toward pay equity, including a joint labor-management committee to set parameters and implement the first phase of pay equity adjustments by this fall for impacted employees with at least five years of service.

Lunds & Byerlys has said the agreement "ensures we will continue to provide industry-leading wages while also working with the union to make much-needed improvements to the current multiemployer health care plan."

The grocer is asking for improvements to the health care plan within the next 12 months. "If the improvements are not made, then our team members would have the opportunity to vote to stay on the multiemployer health care plan or move to our plan," the grocer has said.

Lunds & Byerlys operates 28 stores in the Twin Cities.

Local 663 represents more than 17,000 Minnesota workers in retail, meat packing and processing, food preparation and manufacturing as well as health care.