Facing a unionizing drive by its grocery workers, New Seasons Market has hired a divisive "union avoidance" firm that has worked nationwide to quash labor movements at companies like American Apparel, Conway Freight, and the Hilton at Los Angeles Airport.
It's the same firm that President Donald Trump hired last year in an attempt to quash union organizing at his Las Vegas hotels—a fact that has given new ammunition to New Seasons union organizers.
Cruz & Associates, a consulting firm that started holding meetings with New Seasons workers last month, declares itself an expert in "union avoidance" and is headed by Lupe Cruz, a dissident who once worked for Unite Here, the New York organized labor giant, before jumping ship to the so-called "right to work" movement.
Cruz & Associates has some history in Oregon—the window and door manufacturer Jeld-Wen hired the firm last year to quell its own labor uprising.
The firm's services typically cost around $500,000.
"As a non-union employer, the National Relations Labor Act is unfamiliar territory for all of us," New Seasons Market said in a statement responding to WW's questions about the consulting firm.
"Our staff has raised questions regarding this process and therefore we have hired a consulting firm, Cruz & Associates, to conduct information sessions to inform them. We have over 3,300 staff members at New Seasons Market and we are committed to providing our staff with objective information that keeps them informed. We are all learning together and value our speak up culture which ensures all voices are heard."
New Seasons employees have been conducting a union drive for a little more than a month. Their grievances include the company's rules around health insurance.
The employees trying to organize a union at the grocery store chain say they are disappointed in New Seasons' decision to hire the firm—and are broadcasting it.
"Why is the 'friendliest store in town' using the same union-busting firm Donald Trump used to stop his workers from organizing?" the group posted on its union-supporting Facebook page. "Because they're just another [corporation]."