9/14/19 Message

Informational Picket to Be Held at GreenStar West End on September 15

Dear GreenStar Member-Owners,

In the days following my communication on September 11, many of you have reached out with supportive statements and asked questions about the current union organizing activity by some GreenStar workers. Thank you for the opportunity to make GreenStar’s position clear. We believe in the democratic process and that all employees have the right to choose whether or not to have third-party representation, such as a union, and a right to determine which union they might want to represent them.

Please understand that GreenStar does not have the right to call for a vote; only the organizers along with the union can call for a vote with the National Labor Relations Board. For a union to be recognized, Council will require a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, because Council and management believe this is the most democratic approach. The union and the union organizing committee has the right to hold demonstrations and picket. They also have the right to create messages and posters that share their opinion about GreenStar.

We have been informed that some GreenStar workers alongside the Communications Workers of America union, members of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center, and other members of the community intend to hold an informational picket at GreenStar’s West End location on Sunday, September 15 from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

Our expectation is that the picket will remain on sidewalks and other public areas and will not impede the flow of traffic in or out of the parking lot. The store will remain open during that time and will continue to provide service to our member-owners and customers while respecting everyone’s right to peaceful and non-violent freedom of expression.

We continue to work cooperatively with our member-owners, volunteers, and the community to uphold the reputation of GreenStar as a fair and generous employer, and a participatory workplace. If you would like more information, please feel free to contact GreenStar’s leadership team at askus@greenstar.coop.

In Cooperation,
Brandon Kane
General Manager

9/11/19 Message
A Message from Brandon Kane, GreenStar Food Co-op’s General Manager

By now you are likely aware that there is an active effort to unionize employees at GreenStar. On June 5, 2019 I released a statement as General Manager reinforcing GreenStar’s position that employees have the right to act together to address conditions at work, with or without a union, and that each employee’s choice is their own. Our position of neutrality continues.

While we have provided response to media when asked, GreenStar has not issued a public position statement on the topic of unionization efforts by some employees since June. Our communications on this topic have come under fierce personal and professional attack, and fuel further false claims of management interference with union organizing efforts.

Over the past several months, we have received comments and inquiries from employees, volunteers, and member-owners regarding this silence as well as about allegations that have been made against GreenStar and GreenStar’s management. We have met personally with many people to provide them factual information and assure them that GreenStar is committed to its cooperative principles and support of workers’ rights. Those we have met with have encouraged us to publicly address concerns regarding falsehoods that are being disseminated about GreenStar. We agree that our employees and member-owners deserve clarification.

One public claim is that multiple GreenStar managers were interviewed by government officials of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and that GreenStar was found guilty on three claims of labor law violations. This is false. In July, the Communications Workers of America union on behalf of the GreenStar union organizing committee filed seven Unfair Labor Practice allegations against GreenStar. GreenStar’s management provided factual information to the NLRB regarding those allegations. The union organizing committee subsequently filed an amended document that removed four of their allegations. It is our position that the remaining three claims are false. These allegations may go to a hearing so that both sides have the opportunity to present information. The NLRB has made no determination that GreenStar has violated labor law.

A second report is that a GreenStar employee was fired for union organizing at GreenStar. This is false. The NLRB accepted evidence to the contrary, and agrees this allegation is unfounded. It is our position that no person’s employment at GreenStar has been terminated for union organizing or supporting the efforts of the union organizing committee. Another example of incomplete information that has been reported in the media is that GreenStar’s workers are at-will employees. During the 45-day probationary employment period, GreenStar workers are at-will employees. Following the 45-day probationary period, workers are not at-will employees.

On August 29, an informational picket was held at GreenStar’s DeWitt Mall location. GreenStar believes in people’s right to free speech and freedom of expression and the picket took place without interference. GreenStar’s management received a letter 48 hours prior to the scheduled picket asserting that employees at the DeWitt location feel overworked due to severe under staffing. This was the first time we were notified of this concern. As with any concern brought to us by employees, we immediately looked into the employees’ claims. Like all retail businesses, GreenStar is able to hire and schedule staff in relationship to the revenue to support it. After analyzing months of data on sales and staffing at the DeWitt location, it was determined that the GreenStar Dewitt store has more labor hours at present and more staff on schedule in relation to sales than the average similar satellite co-op. No staff work more than 7.5 hours per day or 40 hours per week at the GreenStar DeWitt location unless staff volunteer for overtime. We recognize our responsibility to act on employees’ concerns. We have held a staff meeting at DeWitt to address these concerns and we are currently working to modify staffing schedules to operate the store and sufficiently serve everyone’s needs.

Action is being taken in order to increase revenue at the DeWitt location. Some of these steps have included increasing the presence of managers and HR representatives to support staff, immediate placement of an acting store manager when the store manager position was vacated, and most recently a complete store reset and refresh.

GreenStar will continue to provide our employees with industry-leading wages, comprehensive benefits, and the best working conditions possible.

GreenStar has been vigilant not to impede employees’ rights and we stand by our personal integrity. We will continue to work cooperatively with our colleagues, member owners, and volunteers to uphold the reputation of GreenStar as a fair and generous employer, and a participatory workplace. Thank you to those who have reached out with questions and allowed us a chance to clarify GreenStar’s position. If anyone would like information, please feel free to contact us at askus@greenstar.coop.

Thank you,
Brandon Kane
General Manager