Union members vote to merge Local 663 and Local 9

Published 8:16 pm Friday, October 22, 2021

It was announced Friday, that UFCW Local 9 in Austin will be merging with United Food & Commercial Workers Local 663 following a union members vote Thursday.

The merger will bring the total number of members to 17,000 and will provide a stronger base for those the two organizations represent.

“We’re going to be the biggest packing house in the state of Minnesota and the biggest UFCW in the five state area,” said Local 9 President Richard Morgan. “There’s strength in numbers and working with Matt (Utecht, Local 663) and Michael (Potter, Local 663) and myself, that’s well over 60-some years of experience.”

A majority of Local 9’s members work in the meatpacking industry with the largest employers being Hormel Foods and Quality Pork Processing; however, some union members work in food processing and various municipalities throughout southeastern Minnesota.

UFCW Local 663’s membership is made up of workers in the grocery industry, meatpacking, healthcare and retail statewide.

“We’re stronger together,” said UFCW Local 9 member and walking steward Claudia Ambriz in a press release Friday and who works at QPP. “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.”

UFCW Local 663 will continue to be led by Utecht, who is the current president. Morgan will transition into a leadership role as the director of packing for southeast Minnesota.

“Both of our locals have deep roots in Minnesota’s labor movement,” Morgan also said in the release. “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.”

Local 663 is the result of a 2018 merger between Local 653 and 1161 that brought together retail and healthcare members with meatpackers based in Worthington.

This year Locals 663 and 9 worked together with state Rep. Dan Wolgamott (14B) to introduce the Minnesota Safe Workplaces for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers Act, which passed.