Wedge Co-op holds first bargaining session with warehouse workers' union

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The Wedge Co-op recently held its first bargaining session with union officials representing the co-op's warehouse employees, and both sides are optimistic about negotiations.

Wedge members rebelled in April after City Pages reported that the co-op had hired "anti-union" law firm Seaton Peters & Revnew to handle labor negotiations with newly unionized workers, prompting the beloved grocery store to dump its counsel. The Wedge's replacement law firm, Dorsey and Whitney, has "always been respectful to our folks," says union negotiator Jennifer Christensen.

"Now, the employer didn't respond to our proposals yet, but we remain hopeful that they will also look on these negotiations as an opportunity to improve things and make things fair and just and consistent," Christensen said. "And just better."

Workers at Co-op Partners Warehouse unionized to protest what they felt was a top-down management style and stagnant pay. Wages remain a central concern for the union, says Christensen.

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Jennifer Christensen is handling negotiations for warehouse workers
"Wage scales and credit for experience and progression and things like that appear, at first glance, to be not real just, like there isn't a real system on who gets raises when and why it happens," Christensen said. "That's pretty typical in a non-union environment 'cause it's just a different structure."

UFCW wants to change that and hopes that the negotiations are "unique and beneficial" to both the co-op and its workers, according to Christensen.

Wedge board president Sarah Wovcha attended the first session and felt it was "very mutually respectful."

Wovcha notes that Christensen has a long track record negotiating with the Wedge's chosen attorney, Doug Christensen, and that they have "a good, friendly and professional rapport."

"I, too, am optimistic that negotiations are going to be very productive," Wovcha said.

For Wovcha, it's important that the store respect its workers' decision to organize, which she says is consistent with the cooperative movement's seven principles.

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Sarah Wovcha respects Wedge workers' rights

Those seven principles can be found here.

"We as the Wedge Board of Directors respect workers' autonomy and independence in making the choice about whether to organize themselves as a union," Wovcha said. "Cooperation amongst cooperatives means we cooperate with each other."

Respect for workers means respecting differences of opinion as well, she said.

"If there has been a difference of opinion to any extent, which obviously there has been if the workers chose to file an NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] decision, we need to be respectful of that decision, open to that decision, and cooperating with it," Wovcha said.

We'll keep following negotiations as they continue.

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Wedge Co-op warehouse employees unionize
Wedge Co-op hires 'anti-union' law firm for labor negotiations
Wedge Co-op dumps 'anti-union' law firm: 'We made a mistake'

Location Info

The Wedge Community Co-op

2105 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Restaurant

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10 comments
Gregory Pratt
Gregory Pratt

Why don't you give me a call, guest? 612-372-3753

Wedgeling
Wedgeling

As a current employee of the Wedge, I can attest to the policies and practices of Lindy Bannister differing from co-op principles. I continue to keep my job because I believe in the co-operative way of business and local food, but I am concerned with how the co-op has been run during the time of my employment. I worry about the overall negative work environment - Wedge employees feel they are being taken advantage of and not respected or appreciated. Wedge employees also make less than Mississippi Market and Seward employees do, as well as those at Whole Foods (based on information from the stores' websites and people I know who work at those places). Everyday I see a lot of passionate, smart, hard-working employees alongside me who are not being treated as well as they deserve. I hope that the board of directors take the search for a new general manager as an opportunity to set a positive example.

guest
guest

As an employee at the wedge I can honestly say that every employee will sleep better tonight knowing that Lindy is gone.  She is truly a horrible person with no idea what the word cooperative means.  JohnH369 if you measure success purely by the size of your patronage check then yes she was quite successful.   But just ask any employee there when the last time Lindy ever did anything to make The Wedge a better place to work and they will laugh in your face.  Unhappy workers means lower quality service and products.  Now hopefully the board will terminate her pet Danelle Dumais as well.  As Deli manager she pretty much destroyed the department in favor of profits by switching the food supplier to sysco foods(basically school lunch) while constantly raising prices.  8 dollars for a smoothie made out of sysco strawberries and dole pineapple juice is just plain crazy.   She also basically forced out every employee in the department in favor of  base pay workers with absolutely no experience causing a drastic decrease in efficiency and quality of product(but increasing overall department profits). For her hard work Lindy gave her an 80k salary and named her store manager.  She is basically Lindy Bannister 2.0 and needs to go as well if the board is serious about changing the store environment and making it a better place for everyone.

Co-oper
Co-oper

The Wedge had become the most successful co-op in the US before Lindy Bannister became GM. While she maintained profitability for the store, she needlessly alienated workers (and not just in the warehouse) and the Wedge was left in the dust by the Seward in terms of growth, innovation and fulfillment of the co-op's mission. I'm glad they can get a new start.

guest
guest

The board finally made a good decision in terminating Bannister. Better late than never? Maybe, but the Wedge will never be able to get back some of the extremely talented employees who were essentially forced out due to the incredibly stressful work environment Bannister created.  Hopefully in the future, the BOD will take into consideration the character of the new hire, for as they have now found out, Wedge employees are not afraid to unionize. 

PartyHat
PartyHat

Yeah, I would love to hear the story of Lindy Bannister losing her job. I have only ever heard terrible things about her. My guess is that most Wedge employees are happy to see her go.

Former Wedge Employee
Former Wedge Employee

Hahaha…you don't have a CLUE what a nightmare of a human being Lindy Bannister is. If by "most successful" you mean squeezing every last dime out of what was already a thriving business through every underhanded business tactic known to man, then sure, but then don't bring up the "7 principles" as if she's any kind of victim here. This is the first decision the board has made in years that has actually honored cooperative values.

Guest
Guest

 Bannister got dumped?  It's about time!

JohnH369
JohnH369

You're missing any semblance of the real story here... Why don't we ask Ms. Wovcha about how she has placed herself as the interim General Manager of the Wedge Co-op after a very questionable termination of the most successful Co-op director in the United States. I wonder how the employees and just as importantly the members feel about this. How do those 7 principles play into that plan, Ms. Wovcha.

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