On May 9, New Seasons Market opened a shiny new store in Ballard, part of their planned expansion into Seattle. There’s a giant sign out front calling it “the friendliest store in town.” But when workers in their Portland stores spoke up about staffing problems, low pay, and safety issues on the job, New Seasons’ responded by hiring a union-busting firm to intimidate them, and that “friendly” branding really lost its shine. And when Seattle found out the private-equity firm that owns the grocery chain is enriching an investor that has funneled millions of dollars to extreme anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice and anti-worker groups, our community decided to take a stand.
So from 8:30 in the morning until dinner time on opening day, a coalition of neighborhood residents, local grocery workers, community groups, faith leaders, union members, and elected officials spent their day letting the community know New Seasons is not in line with Seattle’s values. More than 150 people joined “Reject New Seasons” rallies in the morning and evening, leafleted passersby, and collected public comments for New Seasons from people in the neighborhood.
Two New Seasons workers from Portland traveled north to meet with Seattle grocery workers and community members at the Ballard rally. Marty and Chris have been organizing with their coworkers for months, trying to get New Seasons’ corporate managers to meet with workers and listen to their ideas for improving working conditions. New Seasons claims to have a “Speak Up” culture. But when Marty and Chris spotted their ultimate boss (Stephen Babson, a New Seasons board member and managing director of the private equity firm that controls the company) outside the Ballard store, he skittered off into an Uber to avoid talking with them.
New Seasons management claims they only hired a union-busting consultant to educate their workers at “information sessions.” Yesterday, the Good Jobs Coalition educated New Seasons’ newest neighbors about the company’s poor track record on workers’ rights and its financial ties to a hate group funder.
And it’s not over. Keep an eye out for folks in Ballard who are joining the fight.
If you live in Ballard and you’d like a yard sign to let New Seasons know where you stand, contact us!