It was the first Byrd had heard of a union effort at New Seasons, but he already counted himself a supporter of unions. He had walked the picket line when his mother, a teacher at Reynolds School District, went on strike. And as a student at Grant High School, he’d been part of Portland Student Union, a support group that formed to support teachers as they prepared to strike.
Surely New Seasons, with its progressive reputation, would respect its workers enough to let them determine on their own whether to form a union, he thought.
Then in late November, the anti-union consultants arrived at his store.
In an emailed statement attributed to co-presidents Kristi McFarland and Forrest Hoffmaster, New Seasons told the Labor Press that Cruz & Associates was hired “to provide staff with the unbiased information they need to make well-informed decisions.”
But, of course, that’s not what they did. Recordings made by workers at two of the meetings — shared with the Labor Press — show that Cruz and at least three other anti-union consultants spent the hour questioning union motives and warning of strikes, dues and less cordial workplace relations should a union be voted in.
The meetings were quite extensive. Lupe, in one of the recordings, says he personally trained then-CEO Wendy Collie and most of the company’s department managers. Subsequent trainings were held for floor-level supervisors. Then meetings for frontline employees began — about three employee meetings a day for three days at each New Seasons store in the Portland metro area.