New Seasons Workers United Accuse Grocery Chain of Firing Two Union Organizers

Organizers claim that CEO Wendy Collie interrogated an employee about supporting a union—and fired the worker two weeks later.

New Seasons (WW staff)

Union-supporting employees at New Seasons Market filed complaints with nonprofit B Lab against the grocery company, alleging that managers had intimidated workers from pledging support to the union and that two union organizers had been illegally fired.

B Lab certifies businesses as B Corporations, companies that meet "rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency." Its stamp is often compared to the "fair trade" designation for coffee farms.

The group of pro-union employees, who call their proposed union New Seasons Workers United, asked B Lab to strip New Seasons Market of its certification as a company that meets a high standard of business and labor practices and uses its stores as a "force for good."

New Seasons workers have been organizing a union drive for about a month. Their primary complaints include reductions in employee health care plans and wages they say fall below the cost of living in Portland.

"My hope with this complaint is that B Lab will sincerely look at New Seasons Market and investigate," New Seasons employee Sean Lilly said in a statement. "They're willing to spend a ton of money to keep workers from organizing and collectively speaking up. The company has chosen to spend their money on union busting versus actually living up to their branding as an employee friendly, sustainable business."

The workers denounce the supermarket's choice to hire a "union avoidance" consulting firm, Cruz & Associates, which they say has "a record of engaging in illegal tactics to discourage workers from organizing a union." The firm is the same used by President Donald Trump to quash organizing efforts at his Las Vegas hotels.

NSWU also claims that CEO Wendy Collie interrogated an employee about supporting a union—and fired the worker two weeks later. A second employee was allegedly fired after publicly voicing support for NSWU.

The group also says managers at the grocery store chain have threatened to cut employee benefits if workers unionize and have refused to promote pro-union staff.

Update Dec. 7: New Seasons Market denies the allegations made by NSWU.

"New Seasons Market has a strict no-retaliation policy, and we would never penalize any staff member for expressing their point of view or engaging in legal activity," the company said in a statement responding to WW's questions about the complaints. "We take our staff livelihood very seriously and are open about our shared code of conduct, performance expectations and protocols. Our staff are encouraged to share their ideas with coworkers and management, voice concerns and offer solutions, and help deliver on the company's mission and values every day."

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