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As New Seasons store closes, UFCW 21 acts to help workers

SEATTLE (Dec. 11, 2019) — Portland-based New Seasons Market has announced that it is closing the Ballard grocery store that opened in May 2018 amid protests from labor supporters who decried the company’s union-busting activities at its Oregon stores. Metropolitan Market, a unionized Seattle chain with seven locations in the Seattle area, will take over New Seasons’ Mercer Island store by mid-2020 in a merger of the two grocers.

With the announcement of the Ballard store’s closure, UFCW 21 — the largest private-sector union in Washington state with more than 46,000 members, including many working in grocery stores — is rallying local labor and community organizations to assist any laid-off New Seasons workers by helping them receive job placement services, access to retraining, and emergency funds for any families experiencing hardship as a result of the closure this holiday season.

“We never want workers to lose their jobs,” said UFCW 21 President Faye Guenther. “We wanted New Seasons to respect workers’ rights and industry standards that grocery store workers have fought for and won over the last three decades. UFCW 21’s goal now is to make sure every Ballard New Seasons worker has a good quality job and that every worker lands on their feet. UFCW 21 hopes all workers someday have a union job with a written contract that ensures workers have health care, a pension they can rely on and a voice at work. In the meantime, labor and our community partners will do everything we can to assist New Seasons workers.”

The Workforce Development Department of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, which helps laid-off workers with navigating state and federal programs available to assist with finding employment and pursuing training opportunities, is meeting with UFCW 21 representatives today to develop a response. Laid-off New Seasons Market workers are encouraged to call the WSLC at 360-357-8736​ for assistance.

The Seattle Times reports that the merger deal, announced Tuesday, combines 20-year-old New Seasons with three regional grocery chains owned by Good Food Holdings, which was acquired a year ago by E-mart, the grocery arm of Shinsegae Group, a Seoul-based business whose holdings include department stores and restaurants. E-mart paid $275 million at the time for 24 stores including the Metropolitan Market chain and two California chains, Bristol Farms and Lazy Acres.

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