Victory at Wedge Co-Op in Minneapolis

20151118_171802Last Monday, workers at Wedge Community Co-op in Minneapolis voted to form a union with UFCW Local 1189, making it the first co-op grocery in the Twin Cities area, home to many co-ops, to unionize.

The Wedge employees began their union drive last December, because they wanted to unionize in order to make their jobs sustainable and mirror the values at their workplace, which promotes a sustainable food system. The co-op’s management had already complied with a neutrality agreement they’d signed with unionized warehouse workers. “It was really a worker-driven thing,” Local 1189 Organizing Director Abraham Wangnoo said of the recent victory. “You could just see the excitement in a lot of the people who’d been part of this whole thing.” He added that the workers wanted to be able to “maintain a voice on the job and a sense of control and leadership in the operation of the co-op.”

Once the results of the election are certified by the National Labor Relations Board, the the 136 grocery workers will be part of the UFCW union family

A union drive at the Wedge Table, a cafe and market in the area that is also owned by the Wedge, is still ongoing.



Local 1500 Keeps the Pressure on Mrs. Green’s to Be Responsible Employer

Adapted from the New York Post:

This 2014 photo shows some of the workers who were unlawfully fired by Mrs. Green's, returning to work.

This 2014 photo shows some of the workers who were unlawfully fired by Mrs. Green’s, returning to work.

Just a few weeks after opening a new outpost in the West Village in New York City, Mrs. Green’s, an upscale, organic grocer has managed to put off its left-leaning customer base and renew the motivations of UFCW Local 1500 to keep pressure on the chain to be a responsible employer.

The grocer, in an apparent effort to gauge residents’ attitudes toward unions, asked whether it was “important” to shop at stores that employ union members, said a resident who participated in a phone survey Mrs. Green’s conducted a month ago.

“The West Village is pretty liberal,” said the resident, who did not want to be named. “The survey started out asking questions about the food options in the neighborhood and then veered towards unions.”

The move backfired when a number of residents informed Local 1500 of what the grocer was up to.

The local, which has been picketing outside the store since it opened, soon started handing out leaflets asking, “Why is Mrs. Green’s calling the community, asking what they think about unions?”

“Mrs. Green’s has broken the law and we are trying to inform the community and inform the workers,” said Aly Waddy, director of organizing for Local 1500.

With 18 stores, mostly in the tri-state area, and aspirations to open more, Mrs. Green’s has been locked in a three-year battle with the UFCW, which succeeded last year in bringing NLRB charges against the grocer over the firing of eight employees involved in organizing at its Mount Kisco, NY, store. The grocer settled the dispute by agreeing to rehire the workers.

UFCW Local 1500 and community allies will continue to fight for what is right and will continue to fight for workers at Mrs. Green’s and all retail food stores.


Why we Need Unions

We know already that the prosperity of workers is closely tied to that of labor unions. As the number of unionized hardworking men and women has decreased in our country, we’ve seen the middle class eroded.

According to the researchers’ findings in the paper, “a strong union movement is not simply sufficient for high levels of intergenerational mobility and middle-class membership, but it could be necessary.”

Based on these statements, it is harder to improve the lives of children in poorer economic situations when unions are weakened–strong unions or organizations that improve conditions for workers help give families the opportunity to get out of poverty and rebuild the middle class.

Below are three strong correlations between union membership of parents and their children’s long-term advancement, as laid out by Yahoo.com:

unions abd shared prosperity

via Economic Policy Institute

  1. The fall in union membership has correlated with a shift of workers from the middle to the lower class. According to the researchers analysis, the number of Americans who are in the middle class, which they define as within 50% above or below the median income, has shrunk along with union membership, with many dropping to the low-income group.”The decline of unionism appears to have contributed to the shrinkage of the middle-income group of the workforce and the increasing proportion of the lower income group, with a noticeable but not huge magnitude commensurate with unions’ declining role in the US labor market,” said the report.
  2. Children with parents in a union end up better off than children with parents outside of a union. Using Panel Study of Income Dynamics, or PSID figures, the researchers were able to track both parents’ and their children’s union status, educational attainment, income, and health status. In all categories the researchers found that children with unionized parents end up with better earnings, higher educational attainment, and fewer health issues than those without.
  3. Children living in areas with higher rates of unionization, regardless of whether their parents are unionized, end up better off. The researchers explain that some of the changes that unions fight for create a spillover effect for non-unionized families. “Unions generally advocate policies that benefit workers, such as raising minimum wages, increasing education spending, and improving public services, so that the effect of unionism may show up in higher incomes for all children from the area regardless of the union status of their parents,” said the study.

These findings are simply correlations, and require more testing, but the strength of these connections show that increasing union membership is one viable solution to combating economic inequality.