Central District Community Groups and Leaders Call on New Seasons to Discuss Company Impact on Displacement, Local Jobs

On September 13, 2018, Central District community groups and leaders sent the following letter to the presidents of New Seasons Market:

 

Kristi McFarland and Forrest Hoffmaster
Presidents, New Seasons Market
1300 SE Stark St Ste 401
Portland, Oregon 97214-2473

Dear Ms. McFarland and Mr. Hoffmaster,

We are writing because we and our members care deeply about Seattle’s Central District neighborhood. We would like to meet with you to discuss how New Seasons intends to integrate your planned 23rd and Union store into the community.

Specifically, there are several issues which concern us:

Transparency and respect for our community We have heard that New Seasons is meeting with people in the community, but you have never invited any of us to such a meeting nor have we ever seen a public notice advertising a meeting between New Seasons and community leaders. As a certified “B Corp” you are committed to “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” We hope that you will engage with the community in an open and transparent manner.

Good jobs and workers’ rightsWe have heard that New Seasons is partnering with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to hire locally and we are interested to hear more about that program. We believe it is important for New Seasons to provide opportunities for African Americans and other people of color who are being rapidly displaced from the Central District due to rising housing costs. However, just having a job is not enough. We expect companies like yours, which claim the mantle of social responsibility, to meet the area standards that Seattle grocery workers have achieved through years of struggle — and that includes respect for workers’ rights to organize. Your company’s punitive attendance point system and your history of hiring expensive “union avoidance” consultants raise serious concerns for us. We want to be certain that your workers will have a real opportunity to learn about their rights and to fully exercise them.

Affordability and inclusion As you should know, the intersection of 23rd and Union, where your store will open, has been ground zero for battles over racism, displacement and gentrification in Seattle. Long-term residents have expressed their desire for an affordable grocery store with a culturally appropriate product selection, rather than a specialty grocery store, like yours, that is geared toward very affluent customers. We would like to discuss how New Seasons can meet the needs of long-term residents and help to keep this community affordable and hospitable for working class people of color.

We would like to meet with you within the next four weeks to discuss these issues, before you begin the hiring process for the 23rd and Union store. We would appreciate receiving a response from you within a week, with suggested dates for such a meeting.

Sincerely,

Gabriel Prawl
A. Philip Randolph Institute, Seattle Chapter

Nicole Keenan
Puget Sound Sage

Kevin Allen
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter

Jill Mangaliman
Got Green

Monisha Harrell
Equal Rights Washington

Eunice How
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Xochitl Maykovich
Washington Community Action Network

Matthew Lang
Transit Riders Union

Simone Adler
Kadima Reconstructionist Community

Kathy Yasi
Squire Park Community Council

Shirley Henderson
Squirrel Chops Coffee