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New Hampshire Retail Workers Unionize with UFCW for COVID Safety and to Support Good Jobs

September 15, 2021

Photo Credit: Brianna Soukup/Press Herald Staff Photographer

Union for 12,000 New England Frontline Workers Welcomes Formerly Unjustly Fired Bull Moose Workers Standing Up to Make Company Better Place to Work and Shop for Local Salem Community

SALEM, NH – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1445, the union for 12,000 New England essential workers in grocery, healthcare, and other frontline industries across the region, announced that New Hampshire retail workers at Bull Moose in Salem voted unanimously to unionize with UFCW Local 1445. The union vote comes after Bull Moose fired workers in May 2021 for speaking out about COVID-19 safety risks on the job after the store removed its mask mandate. Customers and the local community stood with workers unjustly fired and Bull Moose responded to the backlash by offering to rehire these workers the week of June 5, 2021. Bull Moose workers also cited workplace harassment as one of the major reasons for unionizing with UFCW Local 1445 to improve working conditions and ensure their voices were heard as they continue to serve their community during the pandemic.

UFCW Local 1445 President Fernando Lemus: “We are excited to welcome Bull Moose workers to our union family and look forward to helping Bull Moose workers secure their first union contract. These workers came to us after management ignored their complaints about workplace safety and harassment. No worker should have to experience this. The past year has demonstrated the value of having a unionized workplace, and we know that a strong union contract will help make Bull Moose a better place for workers, customers, and our community.”

Whitney Villers, Bull Moose worker in Salem: “We believe nobody who works at Bull Moose should have to worry about being fired for simply requesting safety improvements and speaking out against mistreatment. All of us are working hard to care for ourselves, our families, and our customers. What we are asking of management is to help us feel safe at work. We all deserve to have a voice, be heard, and be treated with dignity and respect at work. We’re looking forward to seeing Bull Moose workers across New Hampshire and Maine come together and join us at the negotiating table as we secure a union contract that improves these jobs for all of us.”

Andrew Bove, Bull Moose worker in Salem: “This vote is about justice and security. Before we got fired, we went weeks without adequate staffing or any kind of increased compensation. When we brought up our concerns to management, the company demonstrated that it considered us completely disposable. Our customers and community stood with us in calling on Bull Moose to do the right thing and the company rehired us. While we have seen some improvements, we want to make sure there is the lasting change that comes from a strong union contract. This vote to unionize with UFCW Local 1445 is our first step to create a better workplace where we have a true voice and can negotiate the better pay and benefits we have earned.” 

Kameron Brooksmoore, Bull Moose worker in Salem: “We formed our union in the aftermath of the mass firing of Salem staff in May as a way to ensure something like that could never happen again. Unionizing helps to ensure we have a stronger voice as we work to make this a better and safer place to work. We want to make sure that any future or current employee of Bull Moose feels valued and safe, and that they are being treated with dignity and respect from every member of management. This union is a representation of our bond and our willingness to advocate for each other and our rights.”

BACKGROUND:

On May 21, 2021, workers at Bull Moose Salem were all terminated without a stated reason after voicing collective concerns about the company removing their mask mandate. Following customer and community backlash, Bull Moose offered to rehire these workers the week of June 5, 2021.

Workers at Bull Moose Salem reached out to the UFCW Local 1445 after their complaints about workplace safety and experiencing harassment on the job in the form of racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia, which management continued to ignore.

On Tuesday, September 14, 2021, Bull Moose workers in Salem, NH voted unanimously in favor of joining the UFCW Local 1445. The next step is negotiating for Bull Moose workers’ first union contract between Bull Moose worker bargaining committee members, UFCW L1445 union representatives, and Bull Moose management.

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United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445 is the union for over 12,000 New England essential workers across a number of industries in the region including grocery, retail, and healthcare. To learn more about UFCW Local 1445, go to ufcwlocal1445.org