More than 70 percent of the employees at Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis signed and submitted cards to the National Labor Relations Board Thursday to unionize with United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 653.
Eastside Food Co-op workers said they hope to follow workers at the Linden Hills Co-op who unionized with Local 653 last month. They aim to raise standards both at their co-op and the larger retail grocery industry.
“I support the union movement here at Eastside,” said James Mossak, who works in the grocery department. “Our goals are to continue to support a fair work environment, provide accountability and transparency, and to have a strong voice at the table in regards to policies that affect us Eastside employees.”
Co-ops are long standing champions of organic food, sustainable agriculture, the environment and fair trade which supports good working conditions and fair wages for producers. Workers at Eastside Food Co-op believe in those co-op values and are forming a union as an extension of those values in their own workplace.
“I love working here because I love this community, I love produce and educating people on how to use and preserve it. I am excited to form a union so we can ensure Eastside Food Co-op continues to be an amazing resource for the community, and a great place to work for all of us here now and in the future.” said Whitney Manning from the produce department.
“Working within the cooperative movement, I have seen the value and emphasis in treating workers fairly. Unionizing is one way that we can move forward and incorporate our vision in the local and globalized economy.” said Abbie Vander Horck from the produce department.
After delivering signed union authorization cards to the NLRB, workers passed out fliers and wore buttons in the store to show solidarity. A large group of workers also participated in a delegation to Interim Store Manager, John Lacaria, to inform him of their decision to form a union.
"Eastside Coop has always strived to be a tightknit community of workers. We take pride in our store and each other. We are creating unity for workers and want to work together with management to make sure all voices are heard,” said Angelique Allebach from the scanning department.
After receiving the signed cards, the NLRB will schedule an election for employees to decide whether to unionize.
If successful in their organizing drive, workers at Eastside would join other coop workers who recently unionized at at Linden Hills Co-op and The Wedge in Minneapolis, Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth and the People’s Food Co-op in Michigan.
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives. Union representation provides a voice on the job and the opportunity to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.