FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2023
Contact: Chelsea Connor | [email protected] | 347-866-6259
HUNDREDS OF NYC GREENMARKET, FOOD DISTRIBUTION, COMPOSTING, AND NUTRITION & FARMING EDUCATION WORKERS AT GROWNYC LOCATIONS WIN UNION RECOGNITION
- BRINGING FIRST UNION TO THE INDUSTRY IN NYC -
Recognition Win Follows a String of NLRB Election Filings and Wins by Workers with RWDSU Around the Country
(NEW YORK, NY) – Today, workers at GrowNYC announced their employer will recognize the workers’ union formed with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). On Monday, April 25, 2023, a delegation of workers representing nearly two-hundred employees at around 70 GrowNYC Greenmarkets, farm stands, and CSA pick-up locations, and who work across GrowNYC’s operations in hundreds of schools in their distribution hubs and in nutrition education and composting demanded voluntary recognition of their union from the large-scale non-profit.
Today’s win comes amid a flurry of election filings and wins by workers with the RWDSU this month around the country including Barnes & Noble and REI stores. Workers at GrowNYC will begin bargaining their first contract swiftly as a result. Companies at any time can voluntarily recognize a worker union, doing so expedites the process of union representation and the pathway to a union contract.
Workers across the GrowNYC locations in the five boroughs face continued safety issues amid the rebound of New York City post-pandemic; workplace harassment including sexual harassment, unstable scheduling practices, seasonal layoffs with no call-back structure, a lack of structure when it comes to job duties and tasks at work, and favoritism by management. A union contract would begin to alleviate some of these issues.
“I am thrilled with GrowNYC's decision. I am happy they are still interested in keeping a good relationship with us as workers by voluntarily recognizing our union. Regardless, we will continue to advocate for our rights which will advance GrowNYC's mission as a whole,” said Erik Menjivar (He/Him), GrowNYC Greenmarket Manager and Compost Coordinator.
“I am really excited to have our union voluntarily recognized by GrowNYC. Everyone has worked so hard to get us here, and I am so grateful to my fellow members of the GrowNYC Workers Collective for their dedication to this process. We are ready for the next step and hope that GrowNYC can meet us at the bargaining table in good faith,” said Sitra Bowman (She/Her), GrowNYC Education and Engagement Lead, Zero Waste Schools.
"While I'm excited that we have made it this far I am concerned that Grow leadership took as long as they did, especially considering what we know about Littler Mendleson's past use of stalling tactics. I'm worried that leadership wants to have their cake of good optics giving vocal public support of our efforts while eating it too, by taking a more obtuse union busting route. It won't wear us down though. We aren't going to sit on our hands indefinitely. We'll see what happens at the bargaining table," said Violet Jane Black (They/She), GrowNYC Compost Driver.
“Workers at GrowNYC wanted and needed to form their union. The strength that GrowNYC workers have shown throughout their union effort convinced their employer to recognize them. Their strength at the bargaining table will gain them the necessary protections they need to continue to service our city’s Greenmarkets, farm stands, and CSA, composting and educational programs. GrowNYC did the right thing by recognizing that an overwhelming majority of its workers want the RWDSU, and by not delaying recognition,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
When their first contract is ratified, the RWDSU will represent during its peak season 250+ NLRA eligible workers across New York City. The workers in the bargaining unit include all full- and part-time GrowNYC workers including Greenmarket, farmstand, food distribution, composting, and nutrition and farming education workers across the city.
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The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represents 100,000 members throughout the United States, including 45,000 in New York State. The RWDSU is affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). For more information, please visit our website at www.rwdsu.org,Facebook:/RWDSU.UFCW Twitter:@RWDSU.