After a 6 month organizing effort, Food Front Cooperative Grocery workers voted to rejoin UFCW, Local 555. Out of a possible 91workers eligible to vote, 75 workers voted and 64 workers voted for the union. An over 80 per cent voter turn out resulted in a 85 per cent union vote.
Food Front workers had previously been a union shop for a ten year time period. In August of 2007, Food Front workers voted to decertify and ended their association with UFCW. The discussion that appeared on Portland Indy Media about the decertification is archived at:
The unionization effort follows a controversial 7 months for the cooperative which began last November with the public airing of staff discontents in the Northwest Examiner neighborhood newspaper. http://nwexaminer.com/co-op-crash
The subsequent coop owners concerns about the financial stability of the coop, led to the resignation of the Board of Directors chair person, the retirement of the general manager, and the use of an interim general manager from the National Cooperative Grocer consulting group.
The 43 year old Northwest neighborhood cooperative will soon face its greatest challenge in late summer as the New Seasons Slabtown store will open within a half dozen blocks of the coops front door.
The following is the UFCW press release issued this week:
Workers at Food Front Co-op stores have voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 555. After an overwhelming vote in favor of joining the union, 91 workers will become members of UFCW Local 555.
Food Front Co-op has two stores in the Northwest and Hillsdale neighborhoods of Portland. With more than 10,000 member-owners, democratic governance is a foundational value at Food Front. As union members, store workers will now have their own democratic voice in the co-op.
"We are the union at Food Front," said Russell Kwong. "Our union will help assure customers that we are treated fairly and that the co-op is run democratically. Improving our standards at the co-op benefits employees, customers and owners — and subsequently the whole community."
For Food Front workers, a union voice on the job reinforces the collaborative values that brought them to the co-op. In the coming weeks, workers will sit down with management to negotiate a first contract that solves existing problems and improves working conditions.
"The bottom line is that we wish to be respected, heard, treated equally and most of all supported," said Kira Davis, a store worker. "I believe that creating our union can help strengthen us. As a union, we will empower everyone through education, communication and action."
Organizer, United Food & Commercial Workers