By TAMMY MORALES
For The Stand
MERCER ISLAND (Nov. 17, 2016) — Shaking off the painful national election result, more than 100 union grocery workers and community supporters stopped mourning and got back to organizing last week in support of workers at the newly opened New Seasons Market on Mercer Island. New Seasons is an anti-union, out-of-state grocery chain owned by a multibillion dollar private equity firm, Endeavour Capital. Profit is the bottom line for companies like Endeavour Capital, not their employees’ well-being or the communities they operate in.
New Seasons Market, which plans a massive expansion in the Puget Sound area, calls itself “the friendliest store in town,” but the chain’s safety record isn’t friendly to workers or customers. Check out www.GroceryStoreReport.com, for more information — also visit/share the campaign’s Facebook page to help spread the word. Plus, click here to send a message to the chain’s CEO, Wendy Collie, to tell her our community won’t accept the chain’s low-road practices.
New Seasons advertised its “bread breaking” ceremony to open the new store on Nov. 10, but participants at the “unwelcome rally“ countered with a powerful working-class message. Rabbi David Basior said a blessing over a loaf of challah and shared the story of “bread and roses,” the historic battle cry for better working conditions and worker dignity. Rallygoers delivered a clear statement for workers’ rights as they chanted and sang while passing out leaflets, balloons and red roses.
As the rally came to a close, participants attempted to engage the chain’s top executives — all present for the store opening — about community concerns and worker rights. The managers, however, were not so “friendly,” screaming at rallygoers (see photo) and refusing to speak with Robby Stern, president of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action.
UFCW Local 21 members will continue efforts to engage New Seasons about their alarming food and worker safety record and insisting that New Seasons’ workers deserve respect and a voice on the job. UFCW 21 is the largest private-sector union in Washington with over 46,000 members working in grocery store retail health care and other industry jobs. UFCW 21 is a chartered member of UFCW International with over 1.4 million workers in North America.
Tammy Morales is an Organizer for UFCW Local 21.