MINNEAPOLIS— On Oct. 22, two large food workers unions, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 663 and 9, announced that they would merge and now represent more than 17,000 workers.

UFCW Local 9 reported that most of its union members work in meat packing, including at its largest employers, Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, Minn. 

UFCW Local 663 works in a variety of industries around Minnesota including grocery stores, meatpacking, healthcare, manufacturing, paramedics/EMTs and retail.

“We’re stronger together. We’ve been working together already to improve meatpacking safety at the legislature so this merger is another step in the right direction for workers,” said Claudia Ambriz, member of UFCW Local 9 who works at Quality Pork Products in Austin.

The new union will be led by Matthew Utecht in the role of president. UFCW Local 9’s leader Richard Morgan will transition into a new role as director of packing for southeast Minnesota. 

“Both of our locals have deep roots in Minnesota’s labor movement,” Morgan said. “I’m looking forward to working with President Utecht on the next chapter as we continue to build membership power in Austin, Worthington and throughout the state.”

The union said it is continuing to advocate for front-line workers in Minnesota who might be eligible for $250 million in pay for work done at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.