Workers at Seward Community Co-op hope to become the next group of co-op employees to win union recognition. On Wednesday, more than 100 workers and supporters marched to three Seward locations, chanting, “Union Power!”
The 90-minute action covered three stores in south Minneapolis – the Creamery Café and Seward Franklin store on Franklin Ave., and the Seward Friendship store at 38th St. and Clinton Ave.
“I love my family of co-workers,” said Amber Young, who works at the Seward Franklin store. “I believe in Seward Co-op values. We want to make this a place where all of us live the co-op values – management, community and workers alike.”
More than 75 percent of Seward workers have signed cards authorizing representation by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 653. The cards were submitted Wednesday to the National Labor Relations Board.
Outside the Creamery Café, the demonstrators met with Seward general manager Sean Doyle. Citing the more than 75 percent support, they urged him to voluntarily recognize the union and begin bargaining a contract. He declined to do so, saying he thought the NLRB should conduct a secret ballot election.
Marchers then moved on to the Franklin Ave. and Friendship stores, where they rallied and spoke with customers, many of whom are owners under the Co-op’s ownership structure.
The workers said a union would give them more voice on the job, address unequal treatment and improve safety. One worker said she had been accidentally locked in a freezer, a situation she said could have been avoided if workers were consulted on safety procedures.
“During my eight years at Seward I believe I’ve seen unequal treatment,” said Amy Swenson, who works at both the Franklin and Friendship stores. “Enough is enough. All of us are hard-working people who are dedicated and committed to our community. We’re standing up to make Seward better and our community stronger.”
If Seward workers succeed in unionizing, they will join workers at Eastside Food Co-op, Linden Hills and The Wedge who are represented by the UFCW.
Workers are organizing through unions and other organizations to improve their lives.