Workers at Vertical Endeavors Seek Union Recognition
Vertical Endeavors employees at six locations in Minnesota have filed their intent to unionize. Photo courtesy of the United Food and Commercial Workers

Workers at Vertical Endeavors Seek Union Recognition

Employees at six locations of the climbing gym franchise aim to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 chapter.

Workers from St. Paul-based indoor rock climbing gym operator Vertical Endeavors have announced their intent to unionize.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 chapter is representing 90 Vertical Endeavors workers across six locations who have signed and submitted cards to the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, according to a Friday news release. Workers are asking for livable wages, better working conditions, and a seat at the table for company decision-making, according to the release. 

Next, the NLRB will verify the union is qualified and there are no existing labor contracts that would bar an election.  Then the board will set a date to hold a vote for an election agreement between the employer, union, and other parties.

In the news release, Esthi Erickson, shift manager and team coach at VE Minneapolis, said unionizing is an important component to ensure workers are supported, the company is held accountable, and the space is safe for workers and customers.

Vertical Endeavors’ five Minnesota gyms include VE Bloomington, VE Minneapolis, VE St. Paul, Twin Cities Bouldering, and VE Duluth. The company also owns Nicros, a climbing route setter company. Not included in the unionization effort is the company’s climbing gym in Glendale Heights, Illinois.

“We want to have a hand in improving our work environment and make outdoor industry jobs more livable for everybody who works in it. We want to help make Vertical Endeavors what the gym goers and staff want it to be. We work really hard at our jobs, we’re all really passionate about it, and climbing means a lot to us so it’s important to us to work together to make it an even better place to work,” VE Bloomington staff member Suzie Miller said in the release.

The UFCW has been fairly active this summer. A strike by hundreds of Kowalski’s Markets store workers was narrowly averted in July. In early July, unionized workers at 22 Lunds & Byerlys stores threatened to strike but ultimately struck a deal with management to avert it. UFCW members also reached a last-minute deal to avert a strike at Cub stores around the Easter holiday this year.

In mid-July, Half Price Books workers walked off the job amid contract negotiations.