The following is from The Good Jobs Coalition:
SEATTLE (May 2, 2018) — On Wednesday, May 9, please join labor, community, faith, and neighborhood groups to rally against union-busting New Seasons Market and its anti-LGBTQ investor, the Murdock Trust. All are invited to attend the Rally to Defend Workers’ Rights and Reject New Seasons Market at 9:30 a.m. and/or 5 p.m. outside its new Ballard store at 951 NW Ballard Way in Seattle. RSVP here for the rally.
New Seasons is a Whole Foods-type grocery chain with 19 stores in and around Portland. The company is trying to expand into Seattle, after opening a store on Mercer Island in November 2016.
Although it claims to be progressive, New Seasons is facing a backlash over worker and human rights failures as the company prepares to open its first Seattle store next Wednesday, in the Ballard neighborhood. Critics point to New Seasons’ track record of union-busting and its financial ties to an investor that provides millions of dollars to extreme anti-LGBTQ, anti-women and anti-worker groups.
New Seasons Record of Union-Busting
After New Seasons workers in Portland launched a public campaign last October, aimed at improving their wages and working conditions, the company brought in a “union avoidance” consultant, Cruz & Associates, which specializes in “Preserving a Union Free Work Place.” Former New Seasons worker Sean Lilly was outraged: “The company has chosen to spend their money on union busting versus actually living up to their branding as an employee friendly, sustainable business.”
Indeed, New Seasons workers have alleged multiple instances of illegal interference with worker organizing, including management threats and intimidation. Despite hostility from management, workers in Portland have continued to organize for living wages, safe staffing, a reasonable sick leave policy, and a voice on the job.
One of the issues that had prompted workers to organize was the company’s punitive attendance policy, which puts pressure on workers to come to work sick. One former New Seasons worker, who now works at a union grocery store in Seattle, says the company’s employment practices contradict the company’s branding: “I would hope that New Seasons would walk its talk and begin to cull out some of these bad practices. It is pure hypocrisy for a company who promotes a progressive agenda to have policies that ignore the humanity of its own employees. Everyone gets sick. Our livelihood should not be destroyed because of it.”
New Seasons Growth Enriches Hate-Group Funder
New Seasons’ problems don’t stop with union-busting, however. The company is majority-owned by the private equity firm, Endeavor Capital. One of Endeavour’s repeat investors is the Murdock Charitable Trust, which has provided millions of dollars to extreme right-wing organizations – groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has been designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Freedom Foundation, a billionaire-funded group that opposes minimum wage increases, paid sick leave and fair scheduling laws. Critics are mad that New Seasons presents itself as a socially conscious company while its growth enriches the Murdock Trust.
TAKE A STAND — The Northwest Accountability Project has launched a petition calling on New Seasons to cut ties with the Murdock Trust because of its contributions to anti-worker organizations like the Freedom Foundation, Washington Policy Center and National Right to Work.
New Seasons Threatens Good Jobs in Grocery
Over the years, Seattle grocery workers have bargained for contracts with living wages, affordable healthcare, and defined benefit pensions. They worry that New Seasons’ expansion will undercut union grocery stores, where overall compensation is much better. UFCW 21 member and Ballard QFC Checker Amy Dayley says, “If we let employers like New Seasons disrespect workers’ rights that will make it harder for us to defend our wages and benefits and fight for what we all deserve.”
Be there on May 9!
You can help thousands of Seattle-area grocery workers beat back New Seasons’ union-busting and defend the area standards they have fought for years to win… RSVP here for the rally on May 9.
► From The Oregonian — New Seasons Market isn’t living up to its brand (by Oregon Rep. Rob Nosse) — As a company, New Seasons has professed that it is important for agricultural workers to be paid appropriately or for coffee growers in other countries to be treated fairly for their labor. They support fair trade brands. They advocated for an increase in our state’s minimum wage… Yet when New Seasons’ own workers began talking about organizing into a union to improve their working conditions, New Seasons hired the Trump Hotel’s “union avoidance consultant” and, according to employees, it intimidated employees who favored having a union. This hardly seems ethical or progressive or even friendly to me.