At two Portland-area New Seasons locations, employees will vote on whether to become federally recognized union shops. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will mail ballots to workers of the Orenco Station New Seasons on August 11, with ballots due by September 1; the New Seasons Labor Union confirmed the NLRB will send out ballots August 17, to be returned by September 7.
In a written statement, a New Seasons spokesperson said the company supports their staff’s right to an election, and will respect the process and outcome of a union election. “New Seasons staff are the heart of our business, and we’re proud of our legacy as a progressive and community-focused employer,” the statement reads. “The decision to join a union is one for staff to make and this is not the first time in our company’s history staff have explored this option.”
In May, employees of New Seasons stores in Portland announced intentions to unionize. The Orenco Station New Seasons has partnered with the more established United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, noting a desire for higher wages, better benefits, and retirement as the main impetus. The Seven Corners New Seasons on Southeast Division has decided to remain independent, citing changes to the attendance policy, paid time off, and COVID-19 safety measures as the main driving force behind the burgeoning union. “We’re working for more benefits, comprehensive benefits, a living wage that accommodates the cost of living here, and having a seat at the table,” produce clerk Suzanne Bernardi told Eater. “We want to have a voice in the decisions that affect us.” New Seasons’s ownership did not respond to requests for comment at the time.
In June, the Portland Mercury reported that informational union zines were removed from the break room, replaced with a notice saying all documents posted or left in the break room must be first approved by management. The union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the company, saying the removal of the flyers was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. When asked for comment, New Seasons’s management told the Merc that the store already offered the policies and programs the union was requesting, but did not respond to the workers’ union-busting claims.
“New Seasons workers are an unrelenting force and UFCW 555 is proud to be their union home,” UFCW Local 555 president Dan Clay writes in a press release. “The workers are united, we have the support of the community, and we are standing strong in the face of management’s union busting attempts.”
Updated Tuesday, July 26, 2022 at 10:18 a.m.: This story has been updated to include comment from New Seasons and the New Seasons Labor Union.