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Updates Regarding Possible UFCW Representation for Co-op Staff

Willy Street Co-op Management has been working with representatives at the UFCW to discuss possible unionization of staff. It was our goal to enable staff to make an informed decision on whether or not they want union representation, which is a decision that we believe is their right to discuss and make.

At approximately 1:30pm today, the UFCW withdrew from the election agreement, effectively canceling the staff vote scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday.

The Union has raised certain claims that the Co-op committed unfair labor practices; the Union has not shared those details with us. The Willy Street Co-op Management believes that we acted at all times within the spirit and letter of the code of conduct and neutrality agreements.

We work to create a fair workplace with fair pay, a culture of direct communication and problem solving, and employee participation in management via an Employee Council. Management recognizes that not everyone feels comfortable using these channels and may feel that union representation would be a better method of getting workplace issues resolved. We support the right of staff to choose union representation if they wish.

UPDATE 12/22/2014: As you may know, UFCW 1473 filed a complaint on 12/16/2014 with the National Labor Relations Board. We are looking into the concerns they have raised and promise to communicate as much as possible as we are able. As is always the case, these things take time to sort out and we want to be certain of the facts. Please bear with us and know that we always have and will continue to affirm the right of employees to decide for themselves whether they wish to organize as a union or not.

UPDATE 12/31/2014: The UFCW Local 1473 has petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for the right to represent staff at  Willy West. The UFCW has not filed petitions to represent any other Co-op location or departments. A hearing is scheduled on January 2, 2015 at 9:00am in the Dane County Courthouse The hearing will determine the merits of the petition and the potential voting unit. We will keep you posted with further information as we can. 

UPDATE 01/14/2015: Willy Street Co-op management learned today that the National Labor Relations Board has determined Willy West staff to be an appropriate unit to vote for UFCW representation. Therefore, a vote can now be scheduled, and we expect that to take place within in the next few weeks. At that time eligible staff will vote on whether or not they would like to be represented by UFCW Local 1473. We will post an update after this vote.

It remains our goal to enable staff to make an informed decision and discuss with each other whether or not they want union representation, which is a decision that we believe is their right to discuss and make.

UPDATE 1/23/15: We received notification yesterday that the National Labor Relations Board has announced a vote for the Co-op's West staff regarding representation by UFCW Local 1473. It will take place at Willy West on Tuesday, February 10, 2015, and we will report the results of the election after we learn them.

As has been the case throughout this process, our goal is to enable staff to make an informed decision and discuss with each other whether or not they want union representation, which is a decision that we believe is their right to discuss and make.

UPDATE 1/29/15: On January 27, the National Labor Relations Board requested information from Co-op Management regarding the UFCW Local 1473 claims of unfair labor practices (ULPs) by the Co-op. The NLRB also provided more details so that we are better able to look into these claims. We will meet that request and update our Owners on the NLRB's process.

UPDATE 2/10/15: Today workers at Willy West voted on whether or not they wanted to be represented by United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1473. We had approximately 89% of eligible voters turn out to vote, and that high level of interest in the workplace is something our whole Co-op can be very proud of.

Voting closed at 6:30pm on Tuesday, February 10, with 102 ballots cast from 114 eligible voters. 50 voted against representation, 43 voted in favor of representation, 1 vote was invalid and 8 ballots were subject to challenges. The challenged ballots were sealed and delivered to the NLRB Regional Director and will be addressed according to NLRB procedures if necessary.

There are still a couple more legal steps to finalize and we will keep you informed once we find out more details.

UPDATE 4/2/15: On March 24, 2015 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director issued a conditional decision to dismiss the unfair labor practice (ULP) claims made against the Co-op. The NLRB did not find that any of the claimed actions were intended to violate the National Labor Relations Act, but reserves the right to reassess within the next six months, should any other issues pertaining to the Act arise. We will keep you informed if anything else develops. We continue to foster participatory management practices with our staff, and plan to find additional ways to address staff needs and improve our workplace.

For more information, please see General Manager Anya Firszt's open letter, dated 12/18/2014.