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Seattle labor opposition continues for New Seasons plans at 23rd and Union

Pro-labor advocates opposed to the grocery chain’s planned arrival in the Central District gathered outside the office of Lake Union Partners Monday afternoon to hand over a letter asking the developer to reconsider plans for Portland-based New Seasons to anchor the East Union mixed-use project.

“As​ ​more​ ​upsetting​ ​news​ ​surfaces​ ​about​ ​New​ ​Seasons,​ ​we​ ​ask​ ​that​ ​you​ ​work​ ​with​ ​members​ ​of the​ ​Good​ ​Jobs​ ​Coalition​ ​who​ ​live​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Central​ ​District​ ​to​ ​address​ ​our​ ​concerns​ ​about​ ​New Seasons,” the letter reads.​ “​We​ ​don’t​ ​believe​ ​New​ ​Seasons​ ​is​ ​a​ ​good​ ​fit​ ​for​ ​our​ ​community,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​work with​ ​you​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​solution​ ​that​ ​meets​ ​the​ ​needs​ ​of​ ​long-time​ ​Central​ ​District​ ​residents.”

Labor representative and Federal Way resident Gabriel Prawl who attended the letter handover Monday said he opposes New Seasons because it is a bad employer and will contribute to displacement in the Central District.

“The goal is to make a grocery store that is affordable and also creating jobs for the people in the community that is being displaced,” Prawl said. “It cannot be New Seasons. It is not their intent. It is not their direction.”

The plea to Lake Union Partners follows reports that New Seasons is retaliating against a group of workers trying to organize a union. Two workers involved in the union efforts say they have been fired because of their involvement in the labor effort.

UPDATE: LUP’s Patrick Foley tells CHS his company is aware “UFCW has an issue with New Seasons Market because they are not a part of their union.”

“We have a signed lease with New Seasons and we are excited about the positive attributes they will bring to the neighborhood, including more than 100 local, competitive-wage jobs,” he writes. “We interviewed a number of union stores for this location including Metropolitan Market, and PCC as well as a non-union store in Ken’s Market of Phinney Ridge neighborhood, all of which declined for their own business reasons.”

In September, CHS reported that Lake Union Partners had decided on New Seasons to anchor its mixed-use project coming to the northwest corner of 23rd and Union. The under-construction East Union building the New Seasons will call home is the second of three developments for Lake Union Parters at the intersection.

New Seasons is also being considered as the anchor grocer slot in the development projects set to arise around Capitol Hill Station. The grocer planned to open its first Seattle location in Ballard next year. Labor groups have opposed the company’s expansion to Seattle citing “an anti-union climate” at the company.

The pushback to New Seasons isn’t limited to labor groups. Some residents and speakers at a meeting about neighborhood development hosted by Africatown this fall also said they were concerned about the grocer coming to the Central District. “When we looked at New Seasons, knowing they’re a B Corp, they’re held to rigorous standards every year,” Joe Ferguson of Lake Union Partners told meeting attendees in November. “What we saw, is a community minded grocery store and one who is committed to come into the neighborhood and be a part of the solution. They make a commitment to hire within two miles of the store, 70%-80% from surrounding neighborhood.” One person asked how many of the jobs the project will create will go to people of color? “I would envision that looking like the neighborhood,” a New Seasons representative said.

The full letter from the Good Jobs Coalition is below:


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21 thoughts on “Seattle labor opposition continues for New Seasons plans at 23rd and Union

  1. I can’t tell what the issue is here.

    Is it that it is bad for the community? So if they put in a nice grocery store it is displacement. If there isn’t a grocery store, it’s a food desert. Got it.

    Is it that they want the store unionized? Ok, that’s makes sense.

    Africatown? Well, I guess they are just collecting guilt money.

    • The issue is a Union being a bully. They want a unionized grocery store – Safeway, QFC, Albertson’s etc. low quality unhealthy food but the workers pay union dues and that’s what the unions want. Check out Safeway’s labor record, it’s horrendous, and many are being picketed over their working conditions. But UFCW would rather have a unionized and crappy Safeway than a non union quality, northwest based grocer.

    • “They want a unionized grocery store – Safeway, QFC, Albertson’s etc. low quality unhealthy food but the workers pay union dues”

      Versus a New Seasons, which is low quality food (it’s a wannabe Whole Foods, but in reality is just overpriced normal food), but the workers DON’T pay union dues. Oh and they’ve been accused of labor violations too. Only their workers conveniently can’t picket and any dissent in the ranks is met with a “Right to Work” dismissal.

      So I guess that’s better…if you’re an anti-union shill.

  2. the opposition to new seasons seams a little overblown. They would be a great anchor tenant at the Capitol Hill light rail redevelopment.

  3. Living here is becoming exhausting. You think a Portland based grocer is abusing its employees? We have enough Safeway’s and QFC’s. While I would prefer a Met Market since we don’t have one on the Hill, Seasons is supposed to be a good store.

    • I personally reserve my judgment about the store until I know more. But I look at it from the worker’s point of view too. Not just what’s externally seen as generally a “good store” by whoever. Considering Whole Foods is going to be at Broadway and Madison I think next year, I would rather a non-chain store get a chance.

    • “Seasons is supposed to be a good store.”

      Then you’ve never visited a New Seasons before. They are pretty underwhelming. The quality and selection is similar to Safeway or QFC, but at Whole Foods pricing. They seem to think that people are gullible enough to believe that more expensive equals better quality. And apparently, they’re right.

      “You think a Portland based grocer is abusing its employees?”

      That’s like talking about Amazon and saying “you think a Seattle based company is abusing its employees?” New Seasons got sold to Endeavor Capital, a private equity firm, years ago. Endeavor Capital, while based in Portland, has been accused of mistreating employees.

  4. Funny, because the staff at non-union Whole Foods are friendlier, harder working and more helpful than staff at any unionized grocery store in Seattle.

    • The unionized staff at the Red Apple were great. Helpful, friendly and hardworking is what I saw. And when the store closed the union helped them get other grocery jobs.

  5. And would having this store at 23rd and Union somehow make it impossible for people looking for something cheaper to go the 2 more blocks to 23rd and Olive and the Safeway? (which has actually been downgraded to be less attractive since it opened for some strange reason..)

  6. It’s pretty impressive that New Seasons has a commitment to hire 70-80% of its staff from a two mile radius. But of course the union is only interested in adding more members to its dues-paying roles, and not on other issues which will make the store a fine member of the community.

  7. I can’t WAIT for this grocery store to open. I am really sick of Safeway’s understaffing and subsequent long lines. Grocery Outlet seems to be going downhill with their product selection and they are also constanly understaffed.

    • Grocery Outlet is a franchise, and the owners put in lots of hours themselves in that store, as I understand it driving down from Marysville to work there. I can’t imagine the margins are great considering they’re selling surplus and overrun groceries sourced from other chains or producers. I haven’t witnessed your claim that the product selection has declined— if anything just the opposite. I think for the price point you’re getting stuff there for (and let’s be real, it’s dirt cheap for the most part) you have to cut them a little slack on longer lines. It’s also much more crowded there since the closure of the Red Apple at 23rd and Jackson. Give em a break, all in all I think they do a hell of a job.

  8. If you’re a long time resident and homeowner of the area, what’s not to like about this? With the addition of New Seasons there will be options for everyone (Grocery Outlet -> Safeway -> New Seasons). Stores like this are much more community focused than stores like Safeway anyway.

  9. Terrible store with a terrible record. Come on seattle, we’re more progressive then this. They hired the same union busting law firm as Trump. Do we really want to support that? I will continue shopping at progressive and pro-union stores. Because those are the Seattle values that I grew up with. Enough with this culture that encourages displacement through gentrification. Enough is enough.

    • Kevin S. My gut says you work for the UFCW, or some other related union. If you guys are so great, why don’t you survive on your own merits, rather than spreading negative propaganda to get an upper hand?