Workers at Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth Minnesota voted 43-42 to form a Union and join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1189.
The vote took place Jan. 26, bu the official vote tally was being held up as seven ballots were challenged based on supervisory status, the union said on Feb. 3. The National Labor Relations Board deteremined the challenged votes were cast by management employees and therefore would not count in the final results.
After the results are certified, the new UFCW members will begin the process of electing a bargaining committee from amongst their coworkers and creating an initial contract proposal for contract negotiations.
"The organizing committee worked really hard even though management was working every day to make people afraid," said Diana Tastad, the lead organizer on the campaign. "I am so proud of them for sticking together dispite the fear tactics."
Rob Leanord, who works in the deli at the Hillside location, said, "I'm personally thrilled that we finally have the representation all 'at-will' employees deserve to have. I'm glad to know that all of the coworkers I care about, now have representation against the potential downside of 'at-will' employment. I'm overjoyed that now there will be a fair and clear dialogue for us as workers, that will allow us to have a real say in our co-op once again."
Produce clerk Terese Elhard explained her feelings when it came to their organizing victory: "What I feel we have accomplished is securing a path for worker's voice to be heard; for restoring the democratic process to our employment; and protecting our employees rights as a cooperative business was needed."
Jennifer Christensen, president of UFCW Local 1189, said, "The UFCW hopes to start the negotiation process by sending comprehensive surveys to all new members and by holding meetings to brainstorm and discuss ideas."
The vote makes Whole Foods Co-op the second Minnesota co-op to organize a union. In November of 2015, workers at the Wedge in Minneapolis voted to join UFCW Local 1189.
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.