Community Letter to New Seasons

Kristi McFarland and Forrest Hoffmaster

Co-Presidents, New Seasons Market

1300 SE Stark St Ste 401

Portland, Oregon 97214-2473

 

Dear Ms. McFarland and Mr. Hoffmaster,

We are aware of your company’s effort to expand in the Seattle Metro area, and we are increasingly concerned about additional New Seasons Market (NSM) stores opening in our neighborhoods given your company’s failure to meet our community standards.

Our top priority is ensuring our communities are accessible and affordable to all. However, gentrification is threatening the sustainability of our city as a home for working class people, particularly people of color and those with lower incomes. We are aware that your company intentionally targets neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified. In fact, your executives have stated that the addition of a NSM store will push rents and home values higher, based on evidence of the gentrifying impacts of NSM stores in Portland, Oregon.1 We are disappointed that NSM is purposefully seeking to increase inequality, by intensifying the gentrification processes that are pricing out long-time Seattle residents from their neighborhoods. Although NSM presents itself as a socially-responsible company, on par with Seattle’s community-owned cooperative grocers, or local, family-operated grocery stores, we know your company is owned by the private equity firm, Endeavor Capital, which has no qualms about intentionally fostering gentrification and displacement to drive up the value of their investment.2

Further, New Seasons employment practices are substandard compared to established standards in Seattle’s grocery industry. Over the years, grocery workers in our community have won living wages, affordable healthcare, secure retirement benefits and the right to advocate for better working conditions. All grocery stores in our city should meet high industry standards that ensure healthy, stable lives for workers and their families. In a region struggling with rising economic inequality, maintaining established standards and defending workers’ rights are key to keeping our local economy sustainable for all. However, New Seasons provides more expensive health care benefits than union alternatives3, deprives workers of basic job security, and prevents employees from having a voice on the job. Additionally, your company unfairly penalizes employees for calling in sick, which jeopardizes the health of both customers and employees.4

We need to have a say in how our communities are changing, and we believe New Seasons will negatively impact the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors. We ask that you agree to meet the industry standards our local grocery workers have fought for, including affordable healthcare, job security, and basic workplace rights. Until this happens, we will not be shopping in your Seattle area stores, and we will actively educate our community about New Seasons’ failure to live up to our Seattle values.

Sincerely,

A. Philip Randolph Institute – Seattle Chapter (APRI)

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA)

Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ)

Equal Rights Washington (ERW)

Freedom Socialist Party, Seattle Branch

Got Green!

Greater Seattle Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

ILWU Puget Sound District Council

ILWU Local 19

ILWU Local 52

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 77)

Kadima Reconstructionist Community

King County Councilmember Larry Gossett

King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Laborers Local 242

LGBTQ Allyship

Main Street Alliance

M.L. King County Labor Council

OneAmerica

Poverty Action Network

Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA)

Puget Sound Sage

Radical Women

Seattle-King County NAACP

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold

Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda

SEIU 6 Property Services NW

SEIU 925

Squire Park Community Council

St. John United Lutheran Church

Teamsters 117

Transit Riders Union

Washington Community Action Network

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

UAW 4121

UNITE HERE! Local 8

UW United Students Against Sweatshops (UW USAS)

Vietnamese Friendship Association

 


1Anna Marum, “New Seasons plans 2 California stores, sets date for Woodstock store opening,” Oregon Live (Oct. 14, 2015, updated on Feb. 2, 2016). http://www.oregonlive.com/window-shop/index.ssf/2015/10/new_seasons_expansion.html

2As evidenced by New Seasons’ decision to lease a store location from Lake Union Partners (LUP) in Seattle’s Central Area. LUP’s disregard for the disruption of this historically African-American community is on display in this interview:  “Creating Communities That Last: An Interview with Lake Union Partners” Arcade (June 7, 2016). http://arcadenw.org/article/creating-communities-that-last

3See, New Seasons Market Employee Handbook, “Benefits of Working at New Seasons Market” (2016); and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 grocery contracts.

4New Seasons Market Employee Handbook, “Benefits of Working at New Seasons Market” (2016); and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 grocery contracts.