In the midst of their ongoing unionization push, GreenStar workers organized their most publicly visible effort Thursday when they gathered outside the DeWitt Mall location of the local grocery co-op to call attention to their labor efforts.
The group started organizing over a year ago but only went public earlier this summer. They have alleged several workplace violations by the GreenStar administration, including coercive statements, improper terminations, etc., which they officially lodged with the National Labor Relations Board in July. A mix of GreenStar employees, union advocates and leaders, and member-owners of the co-op were present at the picket on Buffalo Street.
GreenStar's Brandon Kane denied the charges levied by workers against GreenStar's administration in a statement to the Ithaca Times in July, while saying he supports their right to unionize (though workers have vocally questioned that).
The gathering lasted from 3-7 p.m., with the consisting of people carrying signs, buttons and pins championing pro-union slogans, along with the GreenStar organizers' "Stronger Together" logo with a fist holding a carrot.
It was clarified that the action didn't constitute a strike, as the picket was characterized more as an effort to make the community aware of the workers' complaints about GreenStar's working conditions and generate public support. Theoretically, there is still the possibility of a work stoppage should the tension between workers and GreenStar's administration continue, but that does not appear imminent currently.
Michelle S. Parks, a GreenStar employee, said the working situation has worsened over the summer, as workers have continued to feel understaffed during shifts, among other complaints. She added that she still feels as if unionizers, or those sympathetic to the organizing efforts, are being treated differently at work than those who haven't expressed support.
"I've always been in support of [the union], but now I feel driven to be a part of it," Parks said. "They're going to build an entire new store, what are they going to do then? How can they properly manage their workers? They need help, and we just want to help. We want to be stronger together."
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