Employees in Willy Street Co-ops stores in the East, West and North, as well as those working in Co-ops kitchens off-site, will cast secret ballots next Tuesday and Wednesday to decide whether to be represented by United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America.
Voters are also all employees working in Co-op's central office in Eastern Washington who do not have the hiring and firing power. Employees who have such powers are not eligible to join the union.
1[ads1]3. August, co-op workers sent a petition to the National Labor Relations Board to request union selection. An announcement on the union's website stated that the petition had received two-thirds support from employees of the five sites.
The Confederation's website describes a plan for "Making Improver at Willy Street Co-op and Putting People First," which includes raising wages, raising promises to "promote longevity and help reduce chronic understaffing," to change grievance procedures. and eliminate penalties for workers who miss work due to illness.
"I believe everyone in the effort … really wants to adhere to principles that sign co-op in terms of being a collective and having a democratic model of involvement," said Thayer Reed, a member of the organizing committee working in the front end of the westside store for a year and a half.  Since Co-op has grown to include a third store, a separate kitchen and central office, "it just seems like a good time to organize our voice right now," Reed said.
"It's really about creating al, productive relationships for people who really are the backbone of the organization to be included in governance and to have the democratic model within a framework of economic development," Reed said.
The Co-op management said in a statement to Cap Times that they are aware that some employees may be interested in seeking election and support. "The Willy Street Co-op strives to be a welcoming and supportive workplace, interested in the growth and potential of each employee and the community we serve … Our leadership team and board respect the right of staff to assess this issue and make an informed decision. We try to operate in accordance with all labor and employment laws, as well as with the rules outlined by the National Labor Relations Board on these issues. "
Reed described management's overall response to the union as" very correct. "
" I do not think anyone in particular is negative or trying to cause division. I think everyone understands that this is a dialogue and there will be some disagreement, but at the end of the day, we're all doing it because we love Co-op, "Reed said.
Earlier this week, Co-op addressed CEO Anya Firszt entitled to eligible employees directly in a letter posted to a Facebook group in the neighborhood by another user Thursday, Firszt explained in the letter Aug. 27 that the union had asked to be recognized without a vote, but "We think it's important for you to have an impression of whether a third-party association, representing electrical, radio and machine workers, is right in you. "
On its website, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America – often referred to as the UE – describes itself as" a democratic national union representing about 35,000 workers in a wide range of industrial, industrial and private services sector jobs. . "
While many UE members still work in factories in the" traditional jurisdictions "of the federation such as electrical manufacturing, metalworking and plastics, many do not. “UE members are also driver crews, staff, teachers, clerical workers, researchers, scientists, researchers, librarians and daycare workers. We maintain city and county roads, run school buses, research in university laboratories, treat wastewater, and conduct hundreds of other occupations, "the site said. Union for Everyone! "Among the workplaces UE represents are other cooperatives, including the working side of Chicago window company New Era Windows Cooperative.
The union describes its approach as" rank-and-file unionism "where" members determine union policy and make all decisions meaning affecting their own local unions. "
Not the first union
This is not Willy Street Co-op's first trade union. to vote on whether they should be represented by United Food & Commercial Workers when the election was canceled the day f s voting should have started.
In December 2015, open letter, Firszt said that the UFCW had withdrawn from the third-party election agreement, while union organizers claimed management had violated labor laws. Organizers filed charges against the National Labor Relations Board, but Co-op management reports that the charges were conditionally dismissed in March 2015. In January 2015, the NLRB decided they would hold a election in the West Edge store. The union lost the elections 10 to 2015 in the period 43 to 50, according to Co-op announcements.
Reed, who was not employed by the co-op at the time of the union in 2015, said that someone who had opposed the union then, is now part of the pro-union organizing effort. She cited various reasons for the change of heart. In the UFCW station, Co-op employees would have joined an established trade union (Local 1473), but in the UE station, Co-op employees would form their own trade union.
In addition, Reed said, those pushing for the union this time have made it clear that they want Co-op to be financially responsible. "Of course, we have to be accountable to all of our owners because they are our members," Reed said. "I think last time it was not so clearly understood or stated."
Employees in the stores in the east and west will vote next Tuesday and employees in the store north, kitchen and central office will vote next Wednesday.
According to NLRB data, employees voted to join 69% of the NLRB trade union certification election in fiscal year 2018.
Firszt closed the letter urging all employees to vote on "whether professional representation is required or desirable. "
" This will be an important decision, "Firszt wrote. "Ultimately, if our employees believe it is right to have a trade union, when it is equipped with all the facts, we will work with the union to extend that cooperation."
Reed said that the union has already begun to transform the work environment. "People are really excited. I think people have experienced some frustration over how to best get their ideas and passion really recognized and channeled, and they see this as a positive step," Reed said.
She remembered a calmer co-worker who admitted that she had previously felt isolated. Now, she told Reed, she liked getting to work more than she had done in a long time. "They just feel like the staff are talking to each other more and thinking about what they want the co-op to be. That to me was very powerful," Reed said.
And that has got staff to talk to colleagues. at Willy Street Co-op locations across the city. "It has brought us together," Reed said, noting that a union would provide a structure for workers to connect and collaborate. "It's been a great way to get to know the strengths and talents of many people and what they could give the organization through a trade union."