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Community Food Co-op workers vote to unionize 

Employees cited wage and scheduling issues as key reasons for unionization

The Forest Street Bellingham Community Food Co-Op is one of the two locations where employees have voted this week to unionize. (Jack Warren/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

Employees at the two Bellingham Community Food Co-Op locations have voted to unionize. 

In secret ballot votes on Wednesday and Thursday, nearly 90% of the 170 employees voted in favor of joining Teamsters Local Union 231, said Kelsey Copps, organizer and business representative of the union.

Employees cited wage and scheduling issues as key reasons for unionization, as well as wanting to be “treated with respect” in the workplace, and increasing employee “retention and longevity,” according to a Teamsters press release before the vote. 

The election will still need to be certified by the National Labor Relations Board, which will happen within the next seven to 10 days, Copps said Thursday night. 

Community Food Co-op Marketing and Outreach Director Amy Drury said in an email that the co-op is “glad our employees exercised their right to vote and will work with the union to support our employees.” She did not comment further.

The co-op is member owned, and according to its website, aims to “promote cooperative ownership and member engagement” and “model ethical business and employment practices,” among other values.

Greg Berry, a deli worker at the Cordata location, said the union movement started in July, when Berry said they were seeing an unusually high level of turnover, especially in the deli and kitchen department.

He said he hopes being in a union will result in an improvement in pay, benefits and employee retention. He said it’s not uncommon to have co-op employees who are on food stamps due to low pay. 

Berry said he also hopes through a union that employees can help the management make the co-op live up to the values it espouses. 

“We’re not really living up to the progressive principles that the co-op claims to promote,” he said. 

Copps said the employees will now have the opportunity to “have their voices heard by their employer.” 

“It’s been a long time coming for them,” Copps said. “I’m really proud of the work they put in.” 

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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