On September 20, 2018, a New Seasons worker in Ballard spoke out publicly, testifying to the Washington State Investment Board about working conditions in stores and calling on the investment board to help workers hold New Seasons Market accountable to our standards for worker’s rights.
Here’s what he told them:
My name is Trent Wu. I’m here to talk about this board’s investment in Endeavour Capital. I work for an Endeavour Capital portfolio company.
I am a cook in the prepared foods department at the New Seasons Market in Ballard, WA.
New Seasons is not living up to its creed as a progressive, socially responsible company that respects workers’ rights.
New Seasons enforces a punitive attendance policy that puts pressure on employees — workers handling your food — to come to work when they are sick. Our store is so starved for resources and good management that prepared foods employees have had to bring in their own thermometers to ensure hot foods are stored at the proper temperatures.
I have seen new employees put to work on dangerous equipment without adequate training or supervision. And I have been personally discouraged from reporting injuries. New Seasons’ company-wide injury rate in 2016 was more than twice the overall rate for the grocery industry. When workers are injured or refused adequate training, they’re not just lowering standards for Seattle grocery workers, but it’s lowering food quality for customers as well.
When workers started speaking out, New Seasons hired Cruz & Associates, a well-known union-busting firm that has done work for Donald Trump hotels. Since I began talking about a union, I have been subject to intimidating comments and retaliatory discipline. Co-workers recently told me that management asked them to spy on me, and that’s why I filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Endeavour Capital is complicit in these low-road practices. It must have approved New Seasons’ plan to expand from Portland into Seattle, even though Endeavour already owns Metropolitan Market, a similar, highly successful grocery chain in the Seattle area.
Why would Endeavour favor New Seasons to compete with Metropolitan Market?
Could it be because Metropolitan Market is unionized?
Could it be because, unlike my co-workers at New Seasons, Metropolitan Market employees have a pay scale with guaranteed raises based on length of service, an excellent health insurance plan that is affordable even for families, a defined benefit pension, and cannot be subject to arbitrary discipline because they have just cause rights under their union contract?
Washington State Investment Board oversees public employee fund investments in Endeavour Capital. You can call on Endeavour and New Seasons to engage with stakeholders, to have serious discussions with the organizations that are here supporting me today, such as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, Washington Community Action Network, and Northwest Accountability Project.
Hold New Seasons accountable to its own stated standards. Thank you.