Wedge Co-op hires 'anti-union' law firm for labor negotiations
The Wedge Co-op has hired an anti-union law firm to handle labor negotiations with its newly unionized warehouse employees, a labor organizer says.
Wedge spokeswoman Elizabeth Archerd confirms the co-op has hired Seaton, Peters & Revnew to "advise on the legalities of contract negotiations," though the firm resists being characterized as anti-union.
UFCW 1189 organizer Curtis Neff says he doesn't want to be "negative" toward the Wedge, since negotiations have yet to begin, but says he is a "little disappointed to see them using a union-avoidant law firm." Union-avoidant, Neff explains, is code for "union-busting."
The Wedge was previously represented by attorneys at Dorsey & Whitney, but management retained the new firm for negotiations.
Seaton, Peters & Revnew exclusively represents management and lists at the top of its Labor-Management Relations web page that its services include "partnering with employers to develop effective strategies to lawfully maintain a union-free workplace."
Doug Seaton, one of the firm's partners, says it's unfair and "inaccurate" to call his firm anti-union for solely representing employers. Few law firms, Seaton says, "cross to the other side of the street."
Moreover, the firm has negotiated "many agreements" with unions, some of which have lasted "30 years," Seaton says.
In this case, Seaton says he's looking forward to the bargaining process, and reaching agreement on terms "that both parties can endorse and live under."
"We assume everybody will be operating in good faith as they're obliged to, and we look forward to being able to reach agreement with them," Seaton says.
Neff, too, is outwardly optimistic about the process.
"I hope the law firm helps them work toward getting a good contract for the workers," Neff says.
Workers at the Wedge's warehouse, Co-Op Partners Warehouse, recently organized to express dissatisfaction with wages and management decisions, as we previously reported. One employee said the workers want to bring "a little bit more democracy back into the co-op."
Archerd says the iconic co-op expects to create a positive relationship with their newly formed warehouse union.
"Unionization has happened in many co-ops across the country," Archerd says. "Other co-ops report highly positive relationships with their bargaining units, and we expect to develop a positive relationship with the local chosen by warehouse staff to be their representative."
Wedge Co-op warehouse employees unionize
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