By Don McIntosh
New Seasons Market has just announced it will raise starting pay to $15 an hour Feb. 1 at all its stores in Oregon and Washington, and at its New Leaf Community Market subsidiary in California. The company says it will also increase wage scales, give more frequent pay increases, give pay adjustments based on time with the company, and implement a simplified review process for more predictable pay increases. More than 80 percent of the company’s clerks will see an increase in pay.
The move comes thirteen months after the public debut of a union campaign called New Seasons Workers United.
We last reported on the campaign in May, when newly installed company co-presidents Kristi McFarland and Forrest Hoffmaster were pledging their willingness to meet with the union group, and told the Labor Press by email that New Seasons no longer employs union-busting consultants.
It took a while, but that meeting did happen. In August, three company executives came out to Cider Riot pub in Northeast Portland for a courteous half-hour exchange with pro-union workers from five stores. Workers say the executives committed to at least three more meetings.
But by then the union campaign had suffered some setbacks. Not long after the campaign’s public launch in November 2017, support for the union flat-lined when the company brought in anti-union consultants for weeks of store-by-store anti-union meetings. By late spring, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 had laid off all but one of the organizers it devoted to the campaign. On July 4, New Seasons Workers United announced a decision to continue on its own, independently of UFCW.
The group has been less active since then, and has suffered from employee turnover as union supporters quit the company. New Seasons Workers United continues to meet semi-regularly however, and enjoys the support of Portland Jobs with Justice and other organizations.
See the full announcement below:
New Seasons Market Announces Starting Pay Increases for Staff
Pay program updates reflect the B Corp grocer’s ongoing investments in progressive compensation and benefits
PORTLAND, Ore. – December 18, 2018 – Progressive neighborhood grocer New Seasons Market announced the company will increase starting pay to $15 per hour for staff across Oregon, Washington and California in 2019, building on the company’s long history of supporting staff with industry-leading pay and benefits in the communities it serves. As part of the announcement, New Seasons’ sister company, New Leaf Community Markets, will additionally increase starting pay to $15 per hour for staff in Northern California.
“New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets are committed to supporting staff with competitive pay and benefits as part of our founding values,” said Kristi McFarland, co-president of New Seasons Market. “We want to attract and retain the best people, and have been listening and responding to staff suggestions to assist their growth with the company and help our communities thrive.”
Effective February 1, 2019, the starting pay for all staff in Portland, SW Washington and Northern California will be $15 an hour, as part of a multi-year strategy that has resulted in a 50 percent increase in starting pay for the regions since 2015. Alongside a higher starting pay, New Seasons and New Leaf will make additional updates to the companies’ pay programs, including increased wage scales, more frequent pay increases, adjustments based on time with the company, and a simplified review process for more predictable pay progression. With all of these changes, more than 80 percent of New Seasons’ and New Leaf’s clerks will see an increase in pay in February.
“These updates have been our goal since our most recent major investment in starting pay in 2016 and we are happy to be able to make it happen even earlier than planned,” said Forrest Hoffmaster, co-president of New Seasons Market. “The grocery industry, as one of the largest employers of hourly workers, has an opportunity to improve equity and livability for the people working in stores, and we’re proud to be a leader in this area.”
The investments further New Seasons’ and New Leaf’s long commitment to progressive policies and programs nurturing staff and the communities served by the grocers’ combined 25 stores. As the world’s first B Corp grocery stores, New Seasons and New Leaf lead the industry with robust healthcare for all kinds of families, paid parental leave, secure lifestyle scheduling, paid volunteer opportunities, career development and more. New Seasons has also championed successful campaigns to raise the Oregon state minimum wage in 2016 and increase affordable housing in 2018, endorsed legislation to require fair and predictable scheduling for all workers, and has advocated for statewide paid family and medical leave, marriage equality and GMO labeling requirements.
For more information on New Seasons Market’s progressive employment practices, visit www.newseasonsmarket.com/progressivegrocer.