By COLIN STAUB
New Seasons Labor Union—a start-up union formed by workers at New Seasons Market store on Southeast Division Street in Portland—has announced an effort to organize a second location.
On June 23 the group asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election for a unit of 92 workers at the Sellwood New Seasons, 1214 SE Tacoma Ave. It’s the third New Seasons store with a union campaign; United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 is waging a campaign at the Orenco Station store in Hillsboro.
Jakob Parsons, a grocery clerk who’s worked at the Sellwood store for a year, said workers want better wages, benefits, and a voice in store decision-making. The attendance and scheduling policies that motivated workers at the Division Street “Seven Corners” store to unionize are company-wide concerns. So is a “three strikes” policy for cashiers: Workers can be fired if their cash register is over or under by $10 three times in 30 days, and a longtime store cashier was recently fired under the policy, Parsons said.
Union supporters feel that everyone, even management, will benefit from the union, said Sellwood worker Ash Thwing.
Workers say Sellwood store managers have been quiet since the union campaign launched. But the company’s vice president of human resources, Corey Routh, sent a June 14 letter to workers, cautioning them about signing union cards. The letter framed it as an ominous, legally binding step workers should be careful about, rather than the first (quite non-binding) step towards getting a formal union election.
Shortly after announcing, workers also noticed their employee discount increase from 20% to 30%, and TVs in the break room began displaying posters reminding workers how much better their starting wages are compared with other grocery stores.
Election dates haven’t been set for any of the three unionizing stores.