New Seasons workers picket six Portland stores

New Seasons workers and union supporters picket outside the Seven Corners store. | PHOTO COURTESY NEW SEASONS LABOR UNION


In their first coordinated action across multiple stores, New Seasons Labor Union (NSLU) members staged pickets on Feb. 2 and 3 to protest the company’s removal of COVID-19-specific sick leave.

Company management in late 2022 announced several COVID-related policies would cease by the end of the year. These included special paid time off (PTO) when workers test positive for COVID, and exceptions to the company’s attendance policy for COVID-related absences.

NSLU members say after those policies ended Jan. 1, workers who contract COVID but don’t have PTO accrued are coming into work sick, rather than taking an attendance penalty.

“It feels like we’re not being protected or listened to, really,” said New Seasons worker Elizabeth Baker, who was handing out fliers to customers in front of the Woodstock store Feb. 2. Besides Woodstock, workers displayed signs and handed out leaflets at the Seven Corners, Grant Park, Concordia, Arbor Lodge and Slabtown stores.

NSLU says the company should bargain over the policy changes at stores that have unionized, rather than implementing changes unilaterally. Although an email exchange the company provided to NSLU shows company executives were planning the policy changes before any stores voted to unionize, the changes didn’t take effect until workers at five stores were represented by NSLU.

During the pickets, managers put up signs at the entrance of multiple stores saying the company respects workers’ right to demonstrate. It offered a $5 discount for customers who preferred to order groceries online rather than shop in-store during the picket.   

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