The Worker Organizing Committee and the management of Seward Coop have agreed "to work together to ensure a fair and democratic election" on Thursday, June 22, they announced. Workers will vote whether to be represented by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 653.
"We are also working together on a Neutrality Agreement," the workers and management said in a jointly emailed statement. "We all believe this is a very important decision that workers need to make for themselves and all workers are being encouraged to participate.
"Workers and management have different interpretations as to who should be included in the collective bargaining unit, but believe the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should decide this question. However, workers who are in question will still be able to vote. Their votes will be set aside and counted if needed after the NLRB makes its determination.
"We want co-op owners to know that management and workers want to ensure this election is fair. The co-op management and workers agreed to zero tolerance for retaliation directed at workers, whether they are in favor of or against forming a union. The co-op has agreed to allow workers and their union representatives to use meeting rooms at each of our locations. All workers who will potentially be in the bargaining unit may freely discuss their opinions about their union, as long as it is not disruptive to work flow.
"We have agreed to respectful, professional communications free of personal attacks. We ask that our community of owners joins us in approaching this topic in a similar manner. We have heard from many of you. We value your opinions and thank you for your care. The decision to form a union rests entirely with the workers of the co-op. We all want the best for this co-op, regardless of the outcome."
In recent weeks, workers and supporters have held demonstrations at Seward's three locations in south Minneapolis – the Creamery Café and Seward Franklin store on Franklin Ave., and the Seward Friendship store at 38th St. and Clinton Ave.