Solidarity Rally at New Seasons Market, TODAY!
5:00pm, New Seasons Market, Seven Corners store, 1954 SE Division St., Portland, OR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 14, 2012
New Seasons Market Workers' Voice
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org 971-258-1653
New Seasons Workers Voice Concerns, Company Responds with a Firing
PORTLAND, OR -- The management of "the friendliest store in town" was anything but friendly last week to one of its longest serving employees. Until last Tuesday, Ryan Gaughan was employed for 9.5 years at the New Seasons Market Seven Corners Store in Southeast Portland. While New Season Market management cite theft as the motivation behind their decision to terminate Gaughan, co-workers and community members are holding a rally and press conference tomorrow to state why they believe the firing was in retaliation for voicing concerns about working conditions.
The website announcing the rally to reinstate Gaughan reports he began with the company in August 2002, has no attendance or performance issues, and has never received any previous warnings regarding allegations of theft prior to his termination. Gaughan's record also includes a history of advocating on behalf and with co-workers on working conditions in the store.
Management cites that Gaughan was not charged for a portion of tofu and rice that accompanied his purchased lunch as cause for termination. Four days prior to his firing, he and other store workers presented concerns regarding disciplinary practices, pay inequities, store morale, and the company's direction to the New Seasons President and CEO, Lisa Sedlar. Organizers of the rally document examples over the course of the past four years of how Gaughan has assisted in efforts to improve workplace conditions regarding safety, health benefits, wage discrepancies, and worker equality.
On February 8, Gaughan filed an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency which protects the rights of workers to engage in concerted or union activity. The NLRB is initiating an investigation into Gaughan's termination because of a concern that his firing was an act of retaliation for participating in concerted activity. The NLRB will seek testimony from New Seasons workers and management regarding the practice of workers being allowed to sample small amounts of prepared food items in the store without disciplinary action.
In a statement reported by The Oregonian yesterday, Lisa Sedlar states that Gaughan was offered an opportunity to participate in mediation, but that he refused. This process, also known as "pre-termination review", involves a mediation agency paid for by New Seasons Market. Workers are only allowed to supply written testimony in their defense, which must be forwarded to the unspecified agency via the Human Resources department at New Seasons. Furthermore, workers are never allowed to know the name of the individual reviewing testimonies, nor are they interviewed.
Gaughan and his supporters chose the NLRB investigation instead of the company's termination review process because of the agency's reputation of being independent, transparent, and unbiased. Gaughan is scheduled to appear before the NLRB on February 17 to provide sworn testimony.
Since the announcement of the community rally and press conference, Gaughan and organizers have received contacts from community members, customers and current and former workers offering their support. Organizers expect to see a large turn out from the Portland chapter of Jobs with Justice, a prominent coalition of unions, pro-labor organizations and community leaders.
New Seasons Market Workers Voice is organizing the rally and press conference in front of the Seven Corners store on Southeast Division St. today at 5:00pm. The group is a coalition of workers, family members, customers, and organizations dedicated to promoting improved conditions and workplace democracy at New Seasons Market
For more information: www.newseasonsmarketworkersvoice.org
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