Workers at Portland-founded grocery chain New Seasons have made decisions regarding union representation at their stores. Employees of the Division New Seasons location — also known as Seven Corners — have voted to unionize, while employees at the Orenco Station and Sellwood locations have voted against unionization.
In May, employees of the Orenco Station and Division Street New Seasons locations announced that they wanted to unionize, followed soon afterward by the Sellwood and Slabtown stores. Orenco Station submitted their ballots first, and the union lost the election 60 to 37. The Seven Corners location voted in favor of the union 62 to 15. Sellwood employees voted against union representation 33 to 29. Employees of the Slabtown New Seasons location will vote to decide if their shop unionizes in late September and early October, with ballots due October 20.
United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which represents the Orenco Station workers, is challenging the results with the National Labor Relations Board, or the NLRB. “While we are disappointed with yesterday’s results, the election is not over,” says Dan Clay, president of UFCW Local 555. “The ballot count was affected by the unfair labor practices the company committed in the elections process, and there are several challenge ballots to address.” Union representatives chose not to share specific allegations with the Oregonian.
In an Instagram post, the New Seasons Labor Union celebrated its win at Division, saying it overcame “monumental odds.” When workers at New Seasons first started organizing, Willamette Week reported that New Seasons hired “union avoidance consultants” Cruz & Associates in response to the union organizing happening at their stores, and the union alleges the company “committed a number of unfair labor practices;” for example, employees have said New Seasons management removed union information from break rooms, and replaced them with a letter from CEO Nancy Lebold warning employees about “misinformation” regarding the benefits of unionizing.
In a statement to Eater, New Seasons management noted that the company is not currently engaged with Cruz & Associates, and challenges the claims made by union members and employees. “We disagree with the objections filed by the UFCW and do not believe New Seasons did anything to affect the outcome of that election, especially given the overwhelming turnout,” the statement reads. “We also disagree that the company committed unfair labor practices at Seven Corners. Our commitment to our staff throughout the entire petition and election processes has been to communicate with transparency in service of our legacy of putting our staff members first.”
The NSLU has not issued a public statement about the Sellwood election results, but there is currently no public record of official objections to the results.
Updated Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at 2:12 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a statement from New Seasons, as well as information regarding the Slabtown election.