May 31, 2017
We’re excited to announce some new additions to our UFCW family! Earlier this month, over 45 hardworking men and women of the Viroqua Food Co-op in Viroqua, Wis., joined UFCW Local 1473.
Looking for ways to build a better workplace for everyone, co-op staff were eager to work together to improve scheduling, job postings, and wages. They approached UFCW Local 1473 a few months ago about these issues and their interest in joining our union family. We’re proud of our new members and the initiative they’ve shown to really make a positive change.
“We welcome the opportunity to bargain on behalf of the employees of Viroqua Food Co-op,” said UFCW Local 1473 President John Eiden. “The local is committed to developing a productive relationship that benefits all parties.”
UFCW represents workers at a number of other co-ops across the country. In 2015, UFCW Local 1459 hosted the first ever “Co-op Workers Summit,” providing an opportunity for the men and women who work at these cooperatives to discuss the unique challenges they face and work together to brainstorm solutions and improvements.
“It’s critically important that the co-op movement doesn’t leave the workers’ voice behind,” said John Cevasco, a grocery worker from Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield, Mass., and a UFCW Local 1459 member who attended the summit in 2015. “We found our voice at Greenfield’s by forming a union, and I know our co-op is stronger because of it.”
“My coworkers and I organized because we believe in workplace democracy,” said Phil Bianco, a UFCW Local 876 member at People’s Food Co-op in Ann Arbour, Mich. “We believe in the values of the cooperative movement. We see those values—democracy, sustainability, autonomy—as perfectly in line with those of the labor movement. In fact, we know the cooperative and labor movements are stronger when united. We urge all workers everywhere to do what we did. Whatever your situation, organize your power and change your circumstances for the better.
March 5, 2017
The UFCW is pleased to welcome a new addition to our union family: the hard-working men and women of the Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The passion and enthusiasm the men and women of Linden Hills Co-op feel both for their jobs and for their new union family is clear as they talk about the democratic principles they believe in in this recent article featured in Workday Minnesota:
Workers at Linden Hills Co-op won their election Thursday to form a union with the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 653. Eight-five percent of workers voted in favor of unionization in balloting conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
“We are excited to begin the bargaining process because it is the next step in making our already amazing co-operative even more amazing. We love where we work. This is an extremely positive thing!” said Tracie Lemberg from the Health and Body Care Department.
Workers have begun circulating bargaining surveys to help the bargaining committee understand their co-workers’ priorities.
“I have been working at co-ops in the Twin Cities since I was 16. Forming a union is the best way to make sure all workers are treated fairly and have a say in creating a positive work environment. I’m proud to work at this co-op and look forward to making it an even better place,” said Emily Calhoon from the Produce Department.
Workers said they want to actively ensure good jobs and a sustainable co-op that best serves the needs of the community.
Evan Adams-Hanson, a front end floor coordinator said, “Forming a union reinforces co-op values of community throughout our store. Linden Hills Co-op can be a model for how workers and management cooperate to ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability at all levels.”
When workers first started discussing forming a union, they met at each other’s houses discreetly to create a safe space to refine their goals and identify who would be most interested in organizing.
“Organizers helped provide advice and experience, but this organizing was done by us – we were making commitments to each other to have each others’ back,” said Bryce Christopherson, a grocery buyer. “For other workers who are forming their union I would advise as much transparency and outreach to your co-workers as feasible. And reach out – we are happy to help you go through the process of forming your union.”
Mark McGraw from the Scanning department said, “I feel more connected than ever to my co-workers and our store, and I’m excited to have all voices at the table as we move forward with our contract negotiations.”
Linden Hills Co-op workers were inspired by other workers who recently organized a union at the Wedge Community Co-op and Whole Foods Co-op in Minnesota and the People’s Food Co-op in Michigan.
“I’ve been a meat cutter and member of UFCW Local 653 for 10 years. I look forward to welcoming the Linden Hills co-op workers as brothers and sisters in our union and fighting together to improve retail standards across the Twin Cities,” said Anthony Lanners, who works at Festival Foods in Andover.
Most of all, Linden Hills workers are eager to get to work building an even more engaged and democratic workplace that can serve as a model for the rest of the community.
“Giving all workers a voice will make employees feel more involved in improving the Co-op,” said Front End Floor Coordinator Evan Adams-Hanson.
“Cooperative principles teach us that co-ops are democratic organizations that work for the sustainable development of our communities. Unionizing Linden Hills Co-op will extend those principles within, to the workers of the co-op, who seek sustainable employment and a collective voice. I look forward to the merging of these principles and ideals that will form a stronger co-op, together,” said Produce Stocker Cassie Nouis.
Cheese buyer Hannah Glaser sees unionization as “an affirmation of mutual support between the staff and business.” Produce Stocker Brian Matson believes “the cooperation of fellow employees in a combined effort to guarantee a better workplace is at the heart of unionization, and that Linden Hills Co-op can be representative of what a community can change if they work together.”