By COLIN STAUB
Union campaigns developed independently at two Portland-area New Seasons grocery stores, and in a remarkable coincidence, representatives of both efforts showed up at the Portland National Labor Relations Board office May 27 within minutes of each other to file petitions asking the agency to hold union elections.
At the Seven Corners store at 1954 SE Division St. in Portland, workers formed the independent New Seasons Labor Union. A union supporter at the store told the Labor Press that workers have three main demands: Better wages, better benefits and a voice in decision-making. Employees start at $16.25 an hour, the employee said, and wages haven’t kept up with inflation. Benefits have deteriorated through two sales of the company.
Meanwhile, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 filed for a union election at the Orenco Station store at 1453 NE 61st Ave. in Hillsboro. A press release announcing Local 555’s campaign cites worker Shelby Miller saying employees are overworked, under-appreciated, and concerned about a recent attendance policy that has employees afraid to call out even if they’re sick. Local 555 represents workers at Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons and other grocery stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It mounted a previous campaign at New Seasons in 2017, but the effort ran aground after workers faced strong anti-union tactics by management.
At the Southeast Portland store, the process is already getting contentious – the New Seasons Labor Union and multiple workers on May 31 filed a handful of unfair labor practice complaints against management.
In an emailed statement, a New Seasons spokesperson told the Labor Press the company will not voluntarily recognize union representation.
“The decision to join a union is one for staff to make, just as it always has been, and we remain committed to honest, transparent and collaborative conversations with staff through this process,” the statement says. It also says New Seasons has “a long tradition of advocating for policies and programs that support all workers, including championing minimum wage increases, fair workweek regulations, affordable housing, paid family and medical leave, and marriage equality.”
The National Labor Relations Board erroneously listed both the independent union and UFCW Local 555 as intervening in the other’s campaign, but the campaigns are unconnected.
The Portland Mercury first reported on the New Seasons union effort.
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