By COLIN STAUB
The entire staff at Portland’s Fang! Pet & Garden Supply store delivered a letter to the business owner on June 6, informing her they are unionizing with ILWU Local 5. There are 10 non-management employees at Fang, located on North Lombard Street. The proposed bargaining unit would also cover six employees at a sister store, Salty’s Pet Supply, located on North Mississippi Avenue.
Store owner Nancy Fedelem received the letter, seemed receptive, and told the employees she is pro-union, workers told the Labor Press. They were hopeful she might voluntarily recognize their union, but the business had not officially responded as of June 14 when this issue went to press.
Kendra Helm and Avery Chambers, both sales associates at Fang, say they’d like to see more stability in how their store is managed.
“We’ve gone through multiple managers and had a very long time where there was really no management,” Chambers said.
The turnover has meant a string of managers who are unfamiliar with how the store operates, making policy changes and then leaving, the workers say.
“We’re the ones that are making the store run, and we believe that maybe our ideas should be heard as well,” Helm said. Helm has worked at the store for four and a half years and has seen at least four managers in that time.
Workers also want more consistent wage increases that reflect the cost of living. Currently there’s no wage scale laying out a timeline for raises.
The company is closing a third store: Three Paws Pet Supply in the South Waterfront will close June 17 after five years in operation. But it’s also getting ready to open another location of Fang! Pet & Garden Supply, at 5132 NE Sandy Blvd.
Salty’s Pet Supply opened in 2005, and Fang! opened in 2012.