By COLIN STAUB
About 120 workers at New Seasons’ “Slabtown” store at 2170 NW Raleigh St. have joined the New Seasons Labor Union (NSLU), just a month after the brand-new independent labor organization won its first election at the Seven Corners store on Southeast Division Street.
In ballots counted Oct. 20, the vote at Slabtown was 62 to 14 to affiliate with the union. That mirrored the Seven Corners tally in September, 62 to 15 to unionize. NSLU now represents about 240 workers.
“I felt really proud,” Slabtown worker and organizing committee member Steven Weiss said after the vote. “It just felt really good to see that many people put in the effort to have their opinion heard.”
Although the company distributed standard anti-union literature, Weiss said there wasn’t a lot of anti-union pushback from Slabtown store management during the campaign. Unlike at Seven Corners, store managers didn’t fight NSLU about where union information could be posted.
The Slabtown vote was the fourth union election at New Seasons in recent months. In early September, workers at a Hillsboro store voted against affiliating with UFCW Local 555, and workers at the Sellwood store voted against joining NSLU. Workers at three more stores have requested union votes: Woodstock, Concordia, and Grant Park.
Workers at the Seven Corners location have ratified bylaws since their September union victory, and on Nov. 2 union representatives met for the first time with management to negotiate. Management had contacted the union about two new store policies related to cash handling and COVID-19 protocol, and both sides agreed to bargain over the policies. Although it’s not a typical first bargaining session (where the goal would be progress toward a collective bargaining agreement) it suggests management is recognizing the union to some extent.
New Seasons operates 10 stores in Portland and nine more in the greater metropolitan area. It also has a location in San Jose, California.