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Homegrown workers strike over health care, union security

The following is from UNITE HERE Local 8:

SEATTLE (Sept. 14, 2023) — Workers at multiple retail locations of Homegrown cafes in the Seattle area have gone on strike this morning after many bargaining sessions have failed to produce a contract with affordable healthcare insurance and union security.

TAKE A STAND — Join Homegrown workers on the picket lines Thursday starting at 10 a.m. at the Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, U Village, Redmond, Mercer Island, and Southcenter Homegrown locations. A large joint picket is planned at 2 p.m. at the Mercer Island location, 3016 78th Ave. SE.

Homegrown workers have made good progress with the company towards a fair contract, but the company’s latest proposal still leaves healthcare insurance unaffordable for many workers.

Homegrown worker Millie said, “I need affordable healthcare for my two kids and my husband, who has heart issues. Right now I’m uninsured because the cost is too expensive. There’s no way I can afford $800/month on my pay.”

About a year ago, workers at Homegrown went on strikes over workplace issues including heat, smoke, gender pay disparity, and COVID sick-day policy; and workers at Catapult NW, Homegrown Group’s wholesale distribution arm, struck over the installation of worker surveillance cameras.

Workers in Homegrown’s cafes and at Catapult NW filed for union elections with the NLRB in October 2022 after their strikes, company-wide delegations, picketing, and leafleting of customers and clients.

Workers in Homegrown retail cafes are eager to settle a fair contract that will have the wages and benefits to make their jobs and lives in the Seattle area sustainable.

“I’ve worked at Homegrown for 8 years. Right now I work two jobs in order to make ends meet,” said Russell, a Homegrown catering driver. “I start work at Homegrown at 4 a.m. and I get off my second job at 11 p.m. I’m fighting for a raise so that I can only work one job, and get to spend more time with my kids and family.”

Queen Anne Homegrown worker Emily highlighted the need for the contract to include a successorship provision.

“I’ve worked at Homegrown for five years,” she said. “I’m fighting for a contract that will allow me to stay in the company long term, and I need to know that I can keep this job if the company is sold.”

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