Employees told a local union that the company hasn’t been the same since it was bought by a South Korean mega-retailer.
Employees at the New Seasons Market in Hillsboro are trying to form a union, according to a press release from the Tigard-based UFCW Local 555 organization.
On Friday, May 27, the union filed for a union election at the New Seasons Market located at Orenco Station. According to the press release, workers in the area sought the union’s aid in organizing their workplace.
Employees have complained to the union about the company’s 2019 acquisition by Good Food Holdings, a U.S. affiliate of E-mart, South Korea’s largest retailer.
New Seasons Market, which focuses on locally made goods, is headquartered in Portland and was created in 1999. At the moment, it has 18 locations in the Portland metropolitan region and one in Northern California. More stores are expected to open in downtown Vancouver, Washington; Lake Oswego; and Milwaukie.
“New Seasons started locally, taking their employees’ voices into account,” said Dan Clay, president of UFCW Local 555, in the statement. “There is no longer a local New Seasons grocery shop after it was purchased by a private equity firm in 2010. Workers at the store are organizing for improved working policies and safety standards, a stronger retirement, and higher compensation. We’re thrilled to join forces with New Seasons’ employees and grow our union together.”
UCFW Local 555 represents other grocery industry workers, like several local Safeway and Fred Meyer sites.
According to a union representative, there hasn’t been any new information released about the union since the press release from May. It is still awaiting word from the National Labor Relations Board on the status of its application.
Workers allege that their conditions have worsened since the company was bought, and they desire greater compensation and benefits. As stated in the petition, a store employee named Shelby Miller has expressed her concerns about a new attendance regulation that she claims makes staff afraid to call in sick, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“As employees, we are expected to make New Seasons Market the ‘friendliest store in town,'” Miller adds in the announcement. “With unappreciated and overworked employees, it’s difficult to keep this up… The future we may look forward to is one in which we have a say in the policies and practices of the stores we work in, as well as our wages and benefits. As soon as this happens, New Seasons Market can legitimately claim to be the “friendliest store in town” for both customers and staff alike.”
New Seasons Market did not reply to responses to questions given by Pamplin Media Group in time for this report on Wednesday, June 15.