New Seasons deploys the same union-busters that Trump Las Vegas hotel used

After 11 years working at New Seasons, grocery clerk Terra Bosart was terminated Nov. 28. She’s the second open union supporter to be fired there.

By Don McIntosh

New Seasons Markets, after spending decades cultivating a feel-good image as a progressive employer, is now engaged in a full-fledged anti-union campaign led by a well-known union-busting firm. The campaign follows the classic union-busting template: holding anti-union meetings in the workplace, enlisting managers as anti-union ground troops, and, according to charges filed by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, violations of federal labor law.

Three charges against New Seasons are now being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board. In the charges, Local 555 alleges that New Seasons violated the National Labor Relations Act when it fired union supporters Adrian Mendoza on Oct. 4 and Terra Bosart on Nov. 28. A third charge alleges that managers are interrogating and coercing workers, and telling them not to talk about the union organizing campaign.

A 2009 Oregon law says employers can’t require workers to attend anti-union meetings, but New Seasons workers interviewed for this article said they weren’t told the meetings were optional, or even what the meetings were about.

In communications with employees, New Seasons frequently touts its “speak-up” culture. But Amanda Birnbaum — a 14-year New Seasons employee who works as a cashier at the Concordia store — says she was shushed when she spoke up to defend the union campaign at one of the meetings led by a Cruz & Associates consultant.

“We’re becoming the company we say we’re not like,” Birnbaum told the Labor Press.

When Birnbaum asked why union advocates weren’t also given a chance to speak at these “informational” meetings, she says she was told if New Seasons let union organizers address workers, that would be supporting the union, which employers are barred from doing. [Not true.]

New Seasons now publicly acknowledges that it hired the firm Cruz & Associates. A new section of the company website says the firm was hired to provide “voluntary information sessions to offer objective information to our staff.”

In Birnbaum’s recollection, the information presented was that unions are “manipulative” “third parties” with their own agendas, chiefly collecting dues.

On its website, Cruz & Associates bills itself as “one of the nation’s leading labor relations firms” and says it helps businesses “respond immediately and effectively to union activity” by managing campaigns, preparing campaign materials, and training managers and supervisors. Past clients include the trucking company Conway, window manufacturer Jeld-Wen, Hilton hotels, American Apparel, and Trump Hotel Las Vegas.

That’s the company New Seasons is now keeping, and it’s not likely to improve the public image of the up-to-now fast-growing Portland natural foods chain.

On Dec. 7, New Seasons Workers United announced that some New Seasons employees have filed a complaint with the nonprofit that certified New Seasons as a “B Corp.” B Corp is a certification provided by the nonprofit B Lab that a company uses its business as a “force for good.” In their complaint to B Lab, the workers say New Seasons management has violated employees’ right to organize. They call on B Lab to investigate New Seasons compliance with its stated values, and if found in violation, to strip the company of its B Corp designation.

New Seasons, on its website, says it hasn’t retaliated against staff, or asked employees to refrain from discussing the unionization effort. And indeed, Mendoza was ostensibly fired for creating a hostile work environment, and Bosart was fired for lateness. [Bosart says that’s after she was put on six months  probation for missing an optional on-the-clock “dismantling racism” class that she signed up for.]

Above, board members and supporters of Portland Jobs with Justice pose for a message of solidarity for New Seasons workers who are forming a union. In recent weeks, dozens of individuals and groups have posted photos like this on the campaign Facebook page.

5 Comments on New Seasons deploys the same union-busters that Trump Las Vegas hotel used

  1. perhaps it would be helpful to determine the official reason for this person’s dismissal..it’s quite possible there have been attendance issues which go back a couple of years

  2. Why is management so afraid to let someone speak up for the workers’ right to organize and their right to free speech> Are the company meetings held to discourage workers from choosing their own representative in the work place? Do Management employees have contracts? If so, why shouldn’t workers? Do you have a contract to buy a house or a car? Then why not put in writing your benefits and your responsibilities, so both parties are clear on them?

  3. This is not surprising, considering at the end of the day no matter the “B” corporation status, that this is a profit driven enterprise. Co-op’s here in Minnesota have similarly attempted to run out unions, only to fail. I suspect the same will be true with New Seasons considering its workforce is essentially primed to be union members.

  4. Hey, I was fired for having my cell phone, “on my person”, while on the sales floor. Known and acknowledged by management, my cell phone is necessary for controlling my hearing aids. Seriously. FYI every other employee also carries cell phone “on their person”.

    The point is that when New Seasons wants to fire a person, for whatever reason they do. Unemployment payouts, law suits….just the cost of doing business.

  5. The very hiring of Cruz & Associates by New Seasons shows that regardless of all their rhetoric, they want to not give any concessions to their workers, and the company bottom line is all that really matters.
    I’m not in PDX often, but usually go to New Seasons when I’m visiting. If they succeed in preventing a union, I’ll never go in there again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*