Good Foods Co-op Workers’ Union Committee Announces Campaign to Unionize

Employees at Good Foods Co-op (Contributed)

Lexington’s Good Foods Co-op employees have announced their decision to unionize and have chosen the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 227 to represent them in future collective bargaining efforts. The Co-op employees’ say their unionization campaign is based on their need for a safe and healthy work environment and management’s prioritization of the wellness of workers and the community.

In a statement released to the Herald-Leader, the Good Foods Co-op Workers’ Union Committee cited several reasons that led them to their decision to unionize. They reported that in recent months, management had reduced labor and hours and dissolved positions, leading to a situation where employees were asked to do more in less time. In addition, new hires have an extended probation period, making it difficult to keep and retain talent. The Co-op has lost several key workers since the changes took effect.

Employees also reported that when store conditions of significant concern were reported to management, no action was taken. For example, some workers became sick after a fire extinguisher exploded during cleanup, and equipment failures took months to be addressed.

The most recent event that led to the unionization decision occurred on March 3, when Governor Beshear declared a state of emergency due to violent storms. Despite the situation, employees say they were afraid to leave work, and the Co-op did not consider their safety. The store finally closed when it lost power on Friday evening, and the following day, workers say they showed up to work in the dark, filling the dumpsters with spoiled food and products.

According to the statement, many of the employees have been working during and after the pandemic and have continuously operated with a skeleton crew, making it difficult to provide customers with the best possible experience. They are consistently asked to work under duress, in hazardous conditions, and without fully functioning equipment, leading to unwell minds and bodies.

The Co-op employees’ say their unionization campaign stands for the democratic process and labor rights for workers, demanding respect and a safe and equitable place to work. They believe that the values and mission of the Co-op oppose management’s opposition to their efforts to unionize.

The statement says Good Foods Co-op has been a “staple” of the community for over 50 years, and many employees joined the Co-op because they believe in its values and principles. Its Cooperative Principles include open and voluntary membership, democratic member control, and education, training, and information. Its Cooperative Values include democracy, equity, honesty, and social responsibility. The employees hope that these principles and values can extend to workers as well as members.

The Good Foods Co-op Workers’ Union Committee has called on the community to continue to support the Co-op and its workers. The employees say they are hopeful and optimistic that they can create a culture and work environment that truly reflects the Co-op’s values and principles.