A New Seasons Market store in Beaverton is the latest in the chain to unionize, becoming the first in the Portland suburbs to do so.
The Cedar Hills location voted 70-51 in favor of organizing under the New Seasons Labor Union during a vote Thursday, Jan. 26, and Friday, Jan. 27, according to information filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Cedar Hills New Seasons Market, at 3495 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd., was the ninth union filing across New Seasons' 19 stores in 2022.
Employees cited scheduling, stagnant wages and attendance policies as reason to begin the campaign. Those complaints are similar to those voiced by employees of other New Seasons stores that have moved to unionize in recent months.
Cedar Hills union organizer Anaïs Kristine said the successful election will bring more diversity to the bargaining table with New Seasons executives — including those who don't typically take public transit to work, and older employees who have been with the store longer than the younger, high-turnover employees at locations in Portland proper.
"It was important for us to get in as early as we could into the process because we wanted to be part of the bargaining," Kristine said. "We wanted to make sure that the people at our store's concerns are going to be part of the process, since we're a suburban store and we think a little different."
"The more people that are represented in the union, the better ideas there are going to be," she added.
The largest bargaining objective when the New Seasons Labor Union goes to the table with Good Food Holdings is to address the COVID-19 policy surrounding absences, Kristine said.
Before 2023, employees were able to get excused absences for contracting the coronavirus, but now employees would have to use their paid time off to stay home if ill.
"We don't want people to feel like they have to come to work with COVID to not get fired," Kristine said. "That's kind of how it feels right now."
A statement provided by the New Seasons Market communications team pointed out that 23 of the 144 staff members at the Cedar Hills location did not vote, and 51 of those who did vote opposed organizing.
"We respect each staff member’s right to choose representation and the decision the majority of our staff have made last week," the statement said. "As we committed to from the beginning of the petition and throughout the election process, we will continue to communicate with transparency in service of our legacy of putting our staff members first."
A statement on the New Seasons Market website regarding the Cedar Hills union election states: "As the next step in the process, the NLRB must certify the results of the election before collective bargaining can begin. We respect each staff member’s right to choose or not choose union representation and are committed to working in partnership with the NSLU."
Cedar Hills store workers filed for a union vote in late November, just six months after employees at a Hillsboro store decided to do the same.
The Orenco Station-area New Seasons asked the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 union to help them organize in May 2022, but the September election showed employees resoundingly rejecting the new union.
Since then, the UFCW chapter said management used illegal threats and coercion to tamper with workers' vote to form the union. New Seasons says that it obeyed all labor laws and disputes the allegations made to the NLRB.
The NLRB will hold a hearing on the Hillsboro location's complaint in mid-April.
In December and January, the New Seasons workers in Concordia, 5320 N.E. 33rd Ave., and Arbor Lodge, 6400 N. Interstate Ave. locations voted in favor of union representation. Cedar Hills became the seventh location to vote to unionize, and the first outside the Portland city limits.
New Seasons Market, which focuses on locally produced goods, is headquartered in Portland and was founded in 1999. It currently operates 19 stores in the Portland metro area — including one store in Vancouver, Washington — and one more in Northern California.
Complaints surrounding wages and scheduling have emerged over the last few years as a result of changes following New Seasons Market's 2019 buyout by Good Food Holdings, a U.S. subsidiary of E-mart, the largest retailer in South Korea.