A little more than a month after employees at New Seasons announced they were planning to unionize, several employees from the grocery store chain have filed a complaint with the nonprofit B Lab and are asking for an investigation into alleged misconduct.
A release from New Seasons Workers United noted that the employees have filed a complaint with B Lab, the nonprofit that awards B Corporation certification. That certification, which New Seasons has earned, identifies companies that meet standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.
The employees' complaint states that the company has violated the terms of its B Corp certification in part by hiring a law firm with an anti-union history. That law firm, Cruz & Associates, was also used by the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas to "intimidate pro-union workers," according to the release.
Employees also accused New Seasons of "illegally firing and disciplining employees who support organizing a union at the company." The release cites two cases of pro-union employees being fired for their support of unionizing; it also suggests that managers have been pressuring workers to oppose unionizing and have threatened to strip benefits if they do form a union.
“My hope with this complaint is that B Lab will sincerely look at New Seasons Market and investigate,” said Sean Lilly, a New Seasons employee, in the release. “They’re willing to spend a ton of money to keep workers from organizing and collectively speaking up. The company has chosen to spend their money on union busting versus actually living up to their branding as an employee friendly, sustainable business.”
In a statement to Willamette Week, New Seasons said it had hired Cruz & Associates to conduct information sessions to help inform them about the unionizing process.
In an earlier interview with the Portland Business Journal responding to employee claims of health insurance cuts and unsafe working conditions, New Seasons CEO Wendy Collie said the company takes all employee concerns "very seriously, and we always want to engage with them to understand their concerns." She also noted that New Seasons offers employees many different ways to speak up and air their concerns with management, a claim the employees behind the complaint dispute.
The Portland Business Journal is a KGW News partner.