After ‘positive’ talks, New Seasons and community groups opposing new store set for Central District agreement — UPDATE: ‘Disappointed’

UPDATE 11/19/18 12:30 PM: Despite hopes of an agreement from representatives on both sides Friday, Monday, activists and community groups who have been engaged with New Seasons said they are “disappointed” that officials “gave no indication the company is committed to change.”

“We can’t wait around while New Seasons’ corporate leadership thinks a little more about respecting our community’s values, and we’re not going to stop calling on them to respect workers’ rights,” the group writes in a statement sent by the Good Jobs Coalition.

“We’re not going away,” the group writes, “and we call on other community members to join us…”

The full statement has been added at the end of this post.

The grand opening of New Seasons in Ballard included this group of protesters

Original report: Unlike what happened at its May opening in Ballard, you probably won’t see protesters greet New Seasons when it opens at 23rd and Union in 2019.

A company spokesperson said it plans to meet Friday’s deadline for a response after positive talks with community groups aligned to push back on the Portland-based grocery chain’s labor practices and its ownership’s anti-LGBTQ politics as it readies to open in the Central District.

Friday’s deadline is part of a community coalition’s demands for the chain:

During their meeting, organizers gave New Seasons co-president Kristi McFarland and other local reps a list of demands. If the demands are met, they said, their campaign against the company would stop. Among other things, they asked New Seasons to sign a neutrality agreement to let interested workers unionize, disclose workforce demographics, let low-income customers use Fresh Bucks to buy produce, stock affordable staple foods, and donate some of their local profits to affordable housing projects and community land trusts.

Nicole Keenan, executive director of Puget Sound Sage, an advocacy group dedicated to low-income people, communities of color, immigrants and refugees, has been part of talks with New Seasons and also categorized the negotiations as positive in a conversation with CHS Friday afternoon. Keenan joined reps from groups like the Squire Park Community Council in the discussions with New Seasons.

While we don’t yet know the specifics of the New Seasons response, the community campaign against the store which has included a “newseasonstories.com” website and neighborhood yard signs, appears to be approaching a fruitful conclusion.

UPDATE 3:40 PM: A New Seasons representative sent over the company’s response to the community groups. We’ve added the full letter at the end of this post. A company representative also provided the following statement:

At New Seasons, we are proud of our established track record as an active civic partner that is committed to directly engaging in building community in a way that reflects our shared progressive values. We’ve been working with a Central District Advisory Council made up of business leaders, local nonprofit representatives and neighborhood council members to understand the needs of the neighborhood, but when we were contacted by this group we wanted to hear their perspective as well. At the meeting, we shared our commitment to championing higher wages, comprehensive benefits for all kinds of families, an inclusive culture, as well as using our voice to stand up for affordable housing, hunger relief and other important social justice and workplace issues that affect everyone. We also took away some valuable ideas from our conversation that we will be exploring further.

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What’s inside Seattle’s tentative deal with its police union

Mayor Jenny Durkan and city officials say the new proposed contract with its more than 1,300 Seattle Police personnel sets the department fully on a path of reform including:

  • Full implementation of body worn cameras by front line officers;
  • Management improvements in transfers and performance evaluations;
  • Improvements and clarity for the 180 timeline for investigations of police complaints;
  • Civilianization of OPA supervisor positions and a HR leadership role in SPD; 
  • Office of the Inspector General provided full and unfettered access to fulfill duties under the accountability; and 
  • The Guild will withdraw several pending Unfair Labor Practice claims.

The mayor sent the proposed six-year, 96-page contract (PDF) with Seattle Police Officers’ Guild to the Seattle City Council for approval Monday. CHS reported in September on the union’s approval of the deal that includes solid raises while also tying further reforms to the package. Continue reading

CHS Pics | ‘Honk for teachers’ — UPDATE: Tentative agreement

 District officials said Friday they are hopeful for a tentative agreement this weekend after the union representing teachers and educators at Seattle Public Schools said it is prepared to strike.

UPDATE 9/1/2018 6:45 AM: Both sides announced a tentative agreement in the negotiations Friday night. The full announcement from SPS is below.

Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill, CHS found a group gathered on the corner of 19th and Galer outside Stevens Elementary to bring attention to their push for increased wages for teachers, librarians, and other school staff. Continue reading

Seattle teachers contract negotiations continue

(Image: SEA)

Seattle Public Schools says scheduled negotiations on a new contract for the district’s more than 3,000 educators ended Saturday without a deal but parents shouldn’t be scrambling to be ready for a strike just yet.

In a statement from the district, officials said they still think a deal will be worked out before Seattle public school kids return to campus after Labor Day:

Scheduled negotiations between the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) ended Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, without a tentative agreement. The hard working joint team has made good progress on many issues of common interest and on the difficult budget and compensation issues that confront us in Seattle Public Schools. Continue reading

Seattle school bus drivers reach benefits deal to end strike

(Image: CHS)

The full fleet of yellow buses carrying Seattle Public Schools kids is back on the roads Monday morning after drivers approved a new contract over the weekend.

“We are very pleased that First Student yellow bus drivers have voted to ratify the expanded benefits program included within their contract,” lead negotiator Kim Mingo for First Student, the company that contracts with SPS to deliver the system’s students across the city, said in a statement. Continue reading

Why Capitol Hill’s newest restaurant — and plenty of others — are adding service charges

Chef and owner Brian Clevenger is celebrating the opening of Contadino and its sibling pizzeria on 19th Ave E. While he would prefer to talk about fresh pasta and pizza, he, like a growing number of Capitol Hill food and drink owners, is answering questions about an italicized note at the bottom of his menus notifying diners of a “5% service charge” that is “distributed in full to the employees you do not see” —

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While pro-labor advocates call the new crop of service charges added by owners like Clevenger protests of “the fact that they have to pay their workers a living wage,” the Contadino restaurateur says he is trying to find a new path to solve an issue close to his heart. And he might soon find some help from the last guy you might expect to lend a hand to a restaurant atop Capitol Hill, Seattle. Continue reading

Motör wants to be Seattle’s super local, safe take on ride-hailing apps

Motör drivers are just like you and me (Image: Motör)

Motör drivers are just like you and me (Image: Motör)

Need a ride to get around Capitol Hill tonight? The creator of Motör has lived in Seattle his entire life and wanted to create a rideshare that allows his community to get to where they’re going efficiently, safely, and affordably.

Sotirios Rebelos comes from a long line of cab drivers. Both of his parents met while driving cabs in downtown Seattle at the Elephant Car Wash. When he read on a community Facebook thread that service industry workers didn’t feel safe walking home at night after their shifts, he decided to do something about it.

“We are drivers, not an app,” Rebelos said.  “The app is secondary. We’re not trying to upscale and dominate globally, we are just trying to give rides to the neighborhood and we need an app to do it.” Continue reading

Rally at Seattle Central part of community college union walkout

Seattle Central faculty held a walkout Thursday in a call for fair wages and solidarity during ongoing contract negotiations — and, as she has been for labor issues across the city over the past five or so years, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was on Broadway to cheer the crowd on.

The teachers union AFT Seattle Community Colleges Local 1789 voted to hold what was called a voluntary walkout across the Seattle Colleges campuses — SCC, North Seattle College, South Seattle College and the Seattle Vocational Institute. Continue reading

Seattle U likely heading to court after refusing to bargain with faculty union

Students and faculty rallied on campus in support of a union in 2015. (Image: CHS)

Students and faculty rallied on campus in support of a union in 2015. (Image: CHS)

Seattle University may be heading to court after administrators formally refused to enter contract negotiations with a labor union newly representing adjunct faculty at the Capitol Hill college.

After organizing for nearly three years, SU’s non-tenured faculty voted in September to join Service Employees International Union 925. The university administration has opposed the union from the start, saying federally regulated contract bargaining would violate the college’s First Amendment protections of religious freedom. Administrators are specifically concerned about being required to hire faculty members that do not subscribe to its Jesuit style of teaching. Continue reading

Should restaurants have to pay workers extra for schedule changes and on-call shifts?

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Kshama Sawant visited a Starbucks last year to explain her first major workers rights victory — the $15 minimum wage . (image: CHS)

One restaurant worker on Capitol Hill said fluctuating work hours each month were a “constant stress” as making rent perpetually hangs in the balance. A Hillman City fast-food manager said scheduling is an enormous task and when employees cannot pick up shifts, it is usually management that forgoes personal and family time to fill the gap.

The anecdotes, included in an extensive 119-page report on hardships faced by Seattle workers due to shifting work schedules, offers a glimpse into the contentious waters city officials are wading into as they consider a new secure scheduling ordinance.

A city-contracted researcher found that a third of workers surveyed faced serious hardships because of their work schedule, with African American and Latino workers reporting “significantly higher” than average rates of hardship. Nearly half of the workers surveyed said they would forego a 20% pay increase to secure substantive advanced notice for work.

“The data reveals that a significant number of Seattle employees’ schedules produce hardship including difficulty planning a budget, a second job, and childcare needs,” said Council member Lisa Herbold in a statement. Continue reading