Workers Expose Cruel Underbelly of Portland’s “Friendliest” Store

Photo by Justin Norton-Kertson

Photo by Justin Norton-Kertson

Story by Pete Shaw

The friendliest store in town is not so friendly after all. At least not to its workers.

That was the message sent by a crowd of over 30 people outside the New Seasons on SE Hawthorne on April 21. Coming together on April 21 in support of raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, some New Seasons employees and 15 Now PDX painted a very different view of the store that has built a portion of its reputation and clientele on being a company that treats workers well.

New Seasons workers say they have been organizing because the store is laying off staff and replacing employees with temporary workers who make only just above the minimum wage. They also accuse New Seasons of being a low-wage employer that contributes to increased gentrification in Portland. “Every New Seasons that goes in drives up housing costs in the neighborhood surrounding the store. As New Seasons employees, we are often unable to live near the stores we work in because the rent is too high.”

Justin Norton-Kertson, an organizer for 15 Now PDX, read from a statement written by a New Seasons employee who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal. “As a New Seasons employee what I most want to get across to customers and community members is that New Seasons is not the same company it once was. While the company has grown dramatically, the treatment of its labor force has not kept up. From low wages to labor cuts to erratic scheduling, felt most keenly by newer employees, New Seasons is not holding up their end of the bargain as an employer who provides sustainable and meaningful work to individuals, families and communities.”

“New Seasons presents itself as a progressive company,” said Norton-Kertson, “but unfortunately that is not the case. We want people to understand they don’t treat employees the way they say they do. They say they have employee-friendly policies, but they pay low wages and many workers are on food stamps.”

Photo by Pete Shaw

Photo by Pete Shaw

The current employee tenor represents a sea change from my local New Seasons experience some years ago. In that encounter, the cashier was eager to tell me how great it was to work there. I agreed that it sounded nice—flexible hours, health insurance even if you worked fewer than the usual hours necessary, and other perks not normally associated with grocery chains—but added that the owners of the store were vehemently anti-union. The cashier responded by telling me they did not need a union because the owners took care of them. I asked her what would happen if the owners changed their minds, or sold the company to people who did not share those values. For a moment I received a blank stare, followed by the affirmation that this would not happen.

But happen it did.

In 2009 Endeavour Capital purchased a majority share—approximately 55%–of New Seasons.

Since then, while keeping up its “friendliest store in town” image, the reality of life at New Seasons has changed. At Wednesday’s rally, workers talked about their difficulty making ends meet. Some mentioned that New Seasons takes a Wal-Mart approach to employees–ensuring that some of them work too few hours to qualify for company health insurance.

New Seasons is a B Corporation, and according to the B Corporation website this “means giving back to the community, taking care of the environment, and creating a progressive workplace where staff can thrive.” This is nice language, but as with most of the propaganda put forth by the business community, it belies reality. First and foremost, corporations exist to make profits. They may dress up that primary calling with noble goals, but those noble goals were created to carve out a market niche. The friendliest store in town has the same goal as the nastiest one– maximize profit–and both are achieved using the same tyrannical top-down model. What it means for workers to thrive depends upon the whims of the owners, not the needs and desires of the workers.

Photo by Pete Shaw

Photo by Pete Shaw

As protesters handed out fliers to passersby, quite a few New Seasons customers were shocked to find out that, as reported by the Portland Mercury’s Dirk Vanderhart, Stephen Babson, a New Seasons board director, held a $12,500 per plate dinner for Jeb Bush—who has called for getting rid of the federal minimum wage–the previous night. Once touted as a core value, worker welfare at New Seasons has devolved to a workplace where poverty wages require workers to resort to federal welfare to meet their basic needs. In terms of that dinner, according to Norton-Kertson, a plate cost “more than most New Seasons workers make in a year.”

In 2012 New Seasons fired Ryan Gaughan, accusing him of theft; a judge found him innocent. His co-workers, believing New Seasons terminated Gaughan in retaliation for his role in organizing employees for better working conditions, fought for his reinstatement to no avail.  At Tuesday’s rally, workers talked about feeling intimidated to stand up and demand New Seasons live up to its putative values, and also said they felt some of their fellow workers had been fired for trying to organize a union.

Gaughan, who now works at People’s Food Co-op, stood across the street from the rally. “It is clear people are scared about forming a union,” he said, “but at the same time they recognize the community support for raising the minimum wage and are willing to take more risks. Fighting for a $15 minimum wage at New Seasons is a good thing to fight for, but they shouldn’t lose sight that worker power and worker democracy is the goal.”

Want to get involved? Go to: www.15nowpdx.org and visit the 15 Now Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/15NowPDX?fref=ts

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  105 comments for “Workers Expose Cruel Underbelly of Portland’s “Friendliest” Store

  1. Ben
    April 24, 2015 at 12:53 PM

    I’d like to vote with my dollars; what recommendations do you have for where to purchase the organically and/or sustainably grown produce, meat, seafood and all the other grocery products we need or desire in our lives?

    • jack
      April 25, 2015 at 10:00 AM

      Google.com. …

    • Kristin
      April 25, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      Local food co-ops, depending on where you live of course. That’s the problem with business monopolies of any kind – they have no incentive to be competitive or to treat people justly. There are exceptions (Richard Branson/Virgin) that prove it can be done. All we can do is support our smaller local businesses.

      • db
        April 29, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        Don’t romanticize Branson. He got rich burning musicians:

        “after doing that album and a couple of singles, I was in vast debt to them, the way they worked the money, because they didn’t share the cost.
        You had to pay for everything out of your advance, but you had to use their studio, which were very expensive. You had to sign to Virgin Publishing, and any profit you got, you couldn’t get it until their subsidiary companies had recouped their money from your project. So if you wanted to make another record, you were just getting further into the debt you hadn’t paid off. So I thought to myself, I’m not going to make another record until I’ve paid off the £16,000 that Virgin have charged me so far. I don’t like living in debt, I can’t bear it, I don’t want to owe money.”

        Read more at http://www.uncut.co.uk/blog/robert-wyatt-interviewed-i-m-not-a-born-rebel-49#uBQ9PjsDK4ZGPbWo.99

    • Karen
      April 25, 2015 at 2:02 PM

      Try your local co-op or the farmers markets, talk about direct!

    • dancinmikeb
      April 25, 2015 at 2:21 PM

      Much of the stuff you mention can be purchased directly from the grower/rancher/fisher if you can afford farmers’ market rates.

      • db
        April 29, 2015 at 8:58 AM

        If you can afford New Seasons you can afford Farmer’s Markets. And a greater share of the money goes to the farmers.

    • arabee
      April 25, 2015 at 2:44 PM

      FoodFront, Peoples, Alberta,
      Cherry Sprout! All great local places with great food!

    • Tori
      April 25, 2015 at 4:18 PM

      I work at Warehouse Cafe and Market, also known as Know They Food and we’re a co-op grocery store (we are our own bosses) that has local, organic meats, produce, and all groceries. There are actually super affordable rates for co-op members as well. I really encourage anyone who is over New Seasons to check us out.

      • db
        April 29, 2015 at 9:05 AM

        thanks for the tip

    • Oaken
      April 25, 2015 at 5:11 PM

      Food Front Co-op, Peoples Co-op, Alberta Co-op, Farmer’s Markets. These are the last truly local ways to vote with your dollar and keep the money in the community.

      • David Findlay
        May 2, 2015 at 1:16 PM

        I believe in Co-ops. I worked at one. However, “keeping money in the local community” is not in my opinion a valid reason to buy something at a co-op vs. the same item at NSM. Most of what you’re paying for is the cost of goods, of which the local economic impact for the same item is exactly the same. Of the remainder, most of it goes for employee wages whether it’s NSM or a co-op and for other overhead, such as insurance, building upkeep, utilities, refrigeration maintenance, etc. The profit remaining after these costs is a tiny amount. At NSM 20% of profits are distributed to employees as profit share and 10% is distributed to local charities. Most of the rest goes to capital expenses for things like store remodels, which employ local workers in the construction trades, and for new stores. A relatively small amount goes to the owners of the company, who are also local.

    • Sallie
      April 26, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      Natural Grocers, they’re fantastic. Everything’s organic, and much better prices than New Season’s.

    • April 26, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      Check out Know Thy Food Co op in SE Portland and People’s Co-op as well.

    • Estebano
      April 26, 2015 at 10:24 PM

      People’s Food Co-op on SE 21st is amazing. Check out their website, mission and values. I wish Food Front was better, but Google “co-op crash food front”. They have their own problems. We shop at People’s, farmers markets, Food Fight and Kruger’s Farm Stand on Hawthorne.

    • Lorie
      April 27, 2015 at 11:00 PM

      In SE, Warehouse Market and People’s (especially their Wed farmers market.) No meat at People’s, but the Warehouse has great local meat and seafood. Check out the buying club that operates through the Warehouse to get significant savings over retail.

    • Kirsten Olsen
      April 30, 2015 at 11:27 AM

      I have been buying produce through GrubMarket.com. They pair up with local farms and then deliver the produce directly to your home. They also offer a variety of other products, not just produce. Very friendly service, good quality food and online ordering. I have been pleased.

    • Lief
      July 3, 2015 at 2:09 PM

      Grow your own food?

    • Mary Priem
      July 9, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      People’s Food Co-op for vegetarian needs, plus cat food (their only meat item). All the produce is organic. All-organic Farmer’s Market at Peoples every Wednesday 2 to 7 p.m. People’s will also do special orders for you. You don’t have to be a co-op member to shop there. For seafood, try Flying Fish Company. Not sure about meat places; Zupan’s is a family-owned store, and Safeway carries organic chicken now. Good success to you in voting with your dollars! I’m trying to do that too.

  2. Asher
    April 24, 2015 at 7:27 PM

    This article is absolutely ridiculous! As someone who has worked for Fred Meyer I can tell you New Seasons is absolutely in a league all their own, a much finer one. How can these employees really expect new seasons company to just snap their fingers and pay them $15/hr? Clearly they have no idea the magnitude of what they are asking. If these people are so unhappy and feel they are underpaid they should find a job elsewhere! (Oh but Fred Meyer, Safeway, Haggen, Albertsons don’t pay as well as or care for their employees like New Seasons does). This awesome company doesn’t need these people dragging it down!

    • Rachel
      April 25, 2015 at 12:22 AM

      Hi, I am just curious how you know this? Do you currently work for New Seasons? I only ask because I was going to apply for a job there, but reading this article has me reconsidering. Can you tell me how much they actually pay employees and how many steady hours are usually given? I am sure you are probably correct about the other stores paying less etc., but if New Seasons is only marginally better, I will look for work somewhere else.

      • Dave
        May 2, 2015 at 3:32 AM

        I have 25 years experience in the industry and have worked at New Seasons for seven years. I also worked at a unionized local independent, a non-union smaller store, and a local co-op. These people who are complaining really don’t understand the economic realities and how competitive the industry is. The working conditions at New Seasons are excellent compared to any place else and the compensation is on the higher end in the industry.

        I’d love to talk to the reporter who wrote this story.

    • Catherine
      April 25, 2015 at 5:26 AM

      I work there. You don’t know what you are talking about.

    • anonymous
      April 25, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      As a long time new seasons employee I cannot express my disdain for this article enough. Shame on you for writing this absolute filth. New seasons always has and always will be a champion for it’s employees. There are absolutely no Wal-Mart like policies to keep employees from getting health care. In any business you do have a need for some part time employees, but honestly that is more of a rarity at New Seasons than with most similar businesses. You should be ashamed as a “journalist” for writing this. You are what’s wrong.

      • Vargus Pike
        April 30, 2015 at 6:39 PM

        Mr Anonymous,
        I am curious. If you are a supportive employee of New Seasons and have such strong feelings about the lack of veracity as regards the article why are you afraid to put your name on your comment? The lack of a name might have some wondering if your position at New Seasons is one in management and that you are spreading disinformation in an attempt to discredit the truth. Jest Saying.

        • David Findlay
          May 2, 2015 at 12:53 PM

          I am not “anonymous” but I have some things to say and have put my name on this comment. I work at New Seasons and have been there for over seven years. I previously worked at three other stores, including People’s Co-op and a unionized store. I have a total of 25 years of experience in the industry.

          There are a number of falsehoods in this article, but I’ll start with health insurance. Not only is it totally false that NSM has a policy of denying workers health insurance by working them part time, New Seasons pays 70% of my domestic partner’s health insurance. If she had kids they would pay for that as well. This is not typical in the industry.

          One source for this article states that “most NSM workers” earn less than $12,500 per year. This really should have given the reporter pause. Even the lowest paid starting employees make $10.00 per hour, which for full time workers is over $20,000 per year, not including benefits, and if they’re good workers they’ll be promoted in less than a year.

          One source claims that “many NSM workers” are on food stamps. I find this very hard to believe. Before I started at New Seasons, I was laid off from a $10.00 per hour job when the business closed, and even when I was on the unemployment I collected for a few months I made way too much to get Food Stamps. Maybe if someone has a bunch of kids and only works part time they might be eligible. I doubt that is “many.”

          Those people who are comparing NSM to Wal-Mart really don’t know what they’re talking about.

          I worked at a unionized store and a cousin of mine I’m very close to has worked for Safeway for over 35 years. We do the same job. Let’s compare and contrast. I make more per hour after seven years than my cousin at Safeway does after 35 years, even though he’s in Alaska where the cost of living is higher and the union pay scale is higher than in Portland. I get five weeks paid time off per year, including sick time. After 15 years I’ll be getting six weeks. In Portland, the union store workers get four weeks after twelve years and that’s the max they ever get. In Alaska they can get five weeks after 20 years. They do technically get sick time in addition, but only after the third day out with an illness and a doctor’s certification is required. My cousin at Safeway has never had a paid sick day in 35 years and I never had one at the union store in Portland where I worked four 5 2/3 years. At NSM workers can be out one day and get paid for it.

          NSM employees receive a 20% discount on everything while at Safeway they get 5% and that’s only on Safeway brand merchandise. At New Seasons we get lots of free “scratch and dent” merchandise while at Safeway employees get nothing. All dated or damaged product is either donated or goes in the dumpster. If an employee removes something from the dumpster it’s considered theft.

          At New Seasons they give us an extra paid day off if we’re on time for every shift and don’t call in sick for six months in a row. It’s called the Perfect Attendance Award. Nobody else I know of does this. And they don’t even count us as late unless we’re more than five minutes late. At the union store where I worked, at least once that I know of an employee was written up for being one minute late. It would never even occur to them to offer any such incentive as a Perfect Attendance Award. Not getting fired was the only reward anyone ever got. They were very overbearing about punctuality even when one was on time. Workers would often be sternly told they were late after clocking in exactly on time and then walking from the time clock, which was in the back of the store and upstairs, to the front of the store because it took a couple minutes and perhaps longer if a customer asked a question.

          At the union store where I worked, scheduling was extremely arbitrary and changed from week to week. The work week ran from Saturday to Friday and per the union contract the schedule was supposed to be up no later than 72 hours before the work week started, which should be Wednesday morning. However, they wouldn’t put it up until Thursday afternoon, so for any given weekend I wouldn’t know until Thursday afternoon what my shifts were. I frequently had Thursday and Friday off, and because the owner didn’t approve of employees calling in to find out their schedule i often had to go in on my day off to look at the schedule to find out. We could ask for a particular day off if we wanted to make plans for something, but the manager’s invariable response was “I’ll see what I can do.” Never once when I asked for a particular day off was I told immediately that I could have it. Any such request had to be made well in advance because if anyone else asked for that day off first my request wouldn’t be granted. In the meanwhile, if I didn’t jump quickly enough when barked at or if they didn’t like the look on my face when they did so, I wasn’t going to get that day off. At NSM every single time I have asked for a particular day off, as long as it wasn’t inventory week my request was immediately granted. i’ve never had a problem getting vacation weeks I want. In the union stores they can assign you vacation weeks of their choosing if they desire, but there are some calendar restrictions. They’re not supposed to be able to make you take one during the Winter, but that won’t stop them from twisting your arm to do so if they want to.

          My experience with managers at New Seasons has been very positive. I’ve heard of a few jerks, but i know they try to hire and promote nice people and for the most part they succeed. The jerks tend to get weeded out. Here are a couple of examples of NSM managers being very nice in ways that would be extremely unlikely to happen in most stores. I work the graveyard shift and one time had to call the store manager late at night because of misplaced store keys. The manager was very nice about being woke up for a bad reason at a very rude hour. Another time, during the tenure of a previous manager, the alarm monitoring company called while my crew and I were on lunch. I ignored the phone at first, because I was on lunch and the bakery person was supposed to answer the phone. After it rang numerous times and the bakery person didn’t answer I went to answer the phone and saw on the caller ID that it was the alarm company (which would be calling about a refrigeration alarm) but the phone stopped ringing just as I reached for it. This meant that the alarm company was then going to call the store manager (at 3:30 a.m.) because no one answered the phone. I received a call from the store manager a few minutes later. He was not the least bit angry and just wanted to make sure everything was okay. Those who complain about management at NSM and compare it to Wal-Mart really don’t have a clue. Go ask someone who worked at Wal-Mart, like Justin in grocery at Hawthorne. You think you’re stressed? You have no idea. Here’s just one contrasting example of Safeway management. At a store my cousin worked at, a cashier was going on her break and, as there was a line at the register and she had exact change for a candy bar, she let it behind the counter for the cashier to ring up after taking care of the customers in line, so she wouldn’t have to wait in line for most of her strictly monitored ten minute break. Stores do rightfully take a dim view of employees being allowed to cut in line, which would have been the case if the cashier had rung up the candy bar and made change, but in this case no customers were inconvenienced and it’s really no different than customers leaving exact change for one item to avoid a line, which happens routinely. No matter, Safeway fired both the employee and the cashier! What was the cashier supposed to do? Turn her attention away from the customers and tell the other worker she had to wait in line?

          I do realize that wages don’t go up as fast at NSM for new hires, but there are still lots of opportunities for promotions for good workers and it’s still a better deal than what they get at most stores. Costco does pay better if you can get hired there. Their business model is such that that they can do that. It’s a lot different when stocking produce, for example, consists of parking a pallet of bagged salad mix, cutting the shrink wrap off it, and then stacking the older remaining product on top, vs. trimming individual heads of lettuce with a knife and setting up a produce rack.

          i appreciate NSM because I have tons of experience in the industry and that gives me perspective that some workers lack, as well as an understanding of the economics. Those who don’t like NSM might consider going to work for one of the co-ops or start your own. You’ll find out about overhead and small profit margins. I won’t suggest that you go to work for Safeway or Wal-Mart, but if you did you would gain some perspective you currently lack.

          I’d like to add something about unions. I am pro-union in general and i think anyone who works at someplace like Safeway or Fred Meyer who would vote one out should have his head examined. However, I would not vote for one at NSM. Not only do we already have a better deal than what the unionized stores get, adding a union doesn’t offer the kind of worker protection you may think it does. If you don’t like working at NSM now, a union is not going to help.

          At the union stores they can still fire someone they want to get rid of. It just takes a few written warnings that can be for the most minor infractions. One co-worker of mine was written up for being one minute late, as I previously mentioned. Another was written up for inadvertently accepting a fifteen cent vendor coupon on an item we didn’t carry. If they want to get rid of you, they will. In the meanwhile they just make your job so miserable that you want to quit, in which case you wouldn’t get unemployment. It’s really more merciful if they can just lay people off. They can actually lay people off, but if they hire any additional help within ninety days of laying someone off they have to first hire the laid off worker, so usually they instead either issue a series of warnings so they can fire you or they make you want to quit. If you do make the “shit list,” at a union store such as Safeway or Fred Meyer and they want you to quit, one of the tactics they like to use is to transfer you to another store further from home and assign you shifts that are inconvenient for being able to spend time with your spouse. Would NSM behave like this if we were unionized? Of course not, but that’s a primary reason why we don’t need a union in the first place.

    • tp
      April 25, 2015 at 10:03 AM

      Asher – why accept underpayment for anyone? It’s like you’re justifying that it’s ok for other grocers and retailers to pay employees less and people should be grateful for what New Seasons does…rather than acknowledge how the whole system needs to change in order to pay people living wages? Apathy is one of the biggest problems in America and your comment concerns me in that it suggests people should be happy with what they have even if it’s piddly more than another piddly. That’s not good enough for me and shouldn’t be good enough for anyone else.

    • manny
      April 25, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      Why is this article ridiculous? You obviously didn’t even read the article did you? The article clearly states that NS window dressing about being a progressive company that takes care of their employees is basically a sham. They are ‘laying off’ full time employees who are eligible for health insurance for temp low paying workers. They have terminated workers who have tried to organize for dubious reasons and their board member is a staunch supporter of Jeb Bush who wants to eradicate the minimum wage hike. Economics 101 clearly says more money for workers = a stronger economy. You sound like a rep for NS. No one is ‘draggig’ anyone down. They are exposing evil corporate business practices under the guise of some hippie nonsense that doesn’t exist. Wake up already.

    • Siz
      April 25, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      Hey Asher, New Seasonsis not the “awesome” company you seem to think it is, it used to be, and Hagens starting wage is higher than New Seasons, it is not the same store that was originally opened, buy the local owners, who wanted good things for their employees AND their communities. Since the corporate buyout, They do not not treat the employees w/ the same ideal that this store had originally been started for. I’ve also worked for Fred Meyer, & the fact is, a corporation, who has controlling share power, is degrading, & doing nothing but cutting the fat, laying people off to hire cheaper, temporary, workers, and complety going against what this store was originally founded for. This is wrong. . Period. It’s not about who’s better to work for, its about holding people, who are in control of so many workers lives, accountable, to keep they’re employees happy, & paid an affordable wage. As any store, or business should.

      • Jeff
        April 27, 2015 at 9:38 AM

        I work at NSM, I have worked for Safeway and have co workers who have worked for Hagens. My coworkers from Hagen all love working for NSM and have expressed to me how much better they are treated at NSM.
        Yes, just like all retail there is sometimes a reduction in hours, however NSM has pointed out to each of us at stores where hours were reduced that legally they will give us the hours we were originally agreed to upon When accepting a job with NSM.
        I think the writer of the article needs to do a little more research. Sometimes Unions are needed and sometimes they are not. NSM is a case of not, we have good benefits, a much better discount than our competition, no real uniform to maintain like Safeway white shirt and tie. Men can have beards unlike Safeway. There is also a program at NSM where we can take free food home. I average $25 per night, that’s at least an additional $400 per month of tax free money. At Safeway in the deli you do dishes, mop and clean on top of your other duties. At NSM they have dishwashers, housekeepers to do those things so we can focuse on our jobs of making quality food.
        Yes, like any corporation there are issues but I can tell you NSM goes way beyond than any of
        our competitors to give us a great work environment.

        • Peter Shaw
          April 27, 2015 at 12:30 PM

          Hi Jeff,

          Thank you for this comment. It brings to mind two things.

          First, the point is not to compare New Seasons with other grocery outlets. It is to compare New Seasons with its professed values. According to many workers, New Seasons is not living up to those professed values, and many dispute your assessment of it being a great work environment, if only because they feel intimidated about organizing for better working conditions.

          Second, and more important is your comment about unions. Your statement that unions are sometimes needed and sometimes are not is a management talking point. As I noted in the article, I heard exactly what you said from a cashier at the Interstate New Seasons a few years ago. I pose the same question to you that I posed to her: What happens if management decides to curtail these benefits? If you don’t believe that this can happen, ask people who worked there prior to Endeavour Capital becoming the majority shareholder in New Seasons.

          Cheers,

          Peter Shaw

          • Anonymous
            April 29, 2015 at 11:32 AM

            I’ve worked at NSM for nearly 8 years and have seen all the transitioning that comes with growing as a company and all of he economic strife it has to deal with (recession, slow sales, et cetera.). While it may not be the same company, culturally as it was prior to Endeavor it is still leagues above general retailers. Starting wage for courtesies and housekeepers is over 10/hr and most department clerks start around 11.00. This article is biased towards a very vocal minority but that’s how these things go.

            It’s also worth noting that each store operates pretty independently, with store managers having very different methods and practices, which can have a profound effect on employee morale. Even so, those that apply themselves and remain positive almost always succeed here. Rabble rousers and general discontent has a habit of weeding itself out and that’s fine, people should work for a company and help develop a culture they believe in, not try to conform to one they don’t.

    • Nate
      April 25, 2015 at 1:17 PM

      Asher, while you may perceive New Seasons as being in a league of their own, my acquaintances who have worked there for nearly the last decade tell a different story. A story of decline and progressively less respect for their long term employees. Not only that, there appears to be a trend of hiring doers, not thinkers. If you have had a close relationship with the store and people who work there over the years you can see the change. I do not doubt that in many ways it is still better than working for Fred Meyers but don’t be fooled. New Seasons no longer has the same standards that made me love them in the past. Maybe New Seasons can’t just immediately pay their employees 15$ an hour to start but they don’t seem to be having a hard time increasing share holders profits on a quarterly basis. And at this point many of their employees will never make 15 an hour regardless of how long they work there. A close friend of mine has worked there more than 7 years and her wage is maxed out at just under 15. She can not get more raises no matter how great the company is doing either.

    • Amy
      April 25, 2015 at 2:04 PM

      Wait so just because it’s not as bad as other places to work it’s okay what New Seasons is doing? No. There’s not excuse for not treating workers fairly. Firing folks in favor of hiring temp workers, random scheduling, these are not fair practices for any organization. Also, do you think it is super easy to just “work somewhere else”? Our economy may be improving but that does not mean jobs are as easy to find as your statement makes it seem. All companies have a responsibility to their employees, and while a $15/hr wage may be a big ask, fair treatment is not. Shame on New Seasons.

      • David Findlay
        May 2, 2015 at 1:48 PM

        NSM does not “fire folks in favor of hiring temps.” Your comment on scheduling is also way off the mark. Like most NSM employees, I have a set schedule with predictable days off. If i want a different day off, i just ask and it’s granted. Sometimes when someone is on vacation they’ll ask me if it’s okay if they change my schedule for a week, even though before I was hired I said I would work any shift and i reiterate it every time they do ask me about switching a day, the manager still seeks my permission to change my schedule. I’m not saying every department manager does that, but that’s been my experience. You have to understand that schedules sometimes have to change to accommodate employee vacations. Generally, employees who have been there for less than one year are the ones most likely to have to switch their schedule, while those who have been there more than one year, per company policy, have set, consecutive days off. The schedule is also posted a couple of weeks in advance while in the union stores it’s generally three days in advance of the work week.

    • sarah Hobbs
      April 25, 2015 at 4:32 PM

      I will concede that Fred Meyers may suck worse, but both still suck. Fred Meyer workers will also benefit if the 15 dollar a hour minimum wage happens. As for where to get your organic fruits, and veggies, I am going to the local farmers markets.

  3. scott
    April 25, 2015 at 12:20 AM

    As a retired union grocery worker.In 2002 our contract was due the third week of July,it was presented to employees the third week off December.With Christmas approaching uneducated employees fearing a strike, voted in the contract thus eliminating good family paying jobs and 20 years of contract benefits which we had to strike for.Now you have to work full time for four years to become a journeyman,which was two years before.And most union employers only work you part time thus now taking eight years to get to full pay and by then most have moved on or been phased out because they make to much.This was all because people allowed Walmart to come to town emementing mom and pop owned business that were ran like the old New Season and most new store that are built but corporations now are non-union also,telling the employees that vote, do not to unionize” We will take care of you ” to the employees that opened the store are now long gone because they were lied to also and the store is now non-union.The Good Union job are long Gone,but have your grocery prices gone down? Thank you UFCW Local 555 for what you do for retired Union workers, and the sad part is the damage is already done so if New Seasons Employees did go Union the good pay jobs are long gone.And with the people that bought Albertsons now owning Safeway,which I believe the money trail will lead back to Wal Mart’s(Private owners) and they will be the next stores closing AKA bankruptcy which will be a major tax right off. And who grows bigger? Are the small Walmart Market stores not moving into buildings that where other stores were?As a retired meat cutter I see that meat prices have double in ten years have your wages?Hey,people working at Walmart have your wages doubled?

  4. S Griff
    April 25, 2015 at 6:21 AM

    Minimum wages are for people with minimum skills. If they want higher wages they should learn a trade.

    • snori
      April 26, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      What are you? 100? That’s not how the economy works anymore. Go to your local New Seasons, and start asking the employees about their college degrees. Everyone in this city is well educated, skilled, and under employed. Your server has a MA. Your barista studied accounting, and it’s a good thing because that was the only way they landed ANY job.

      • Christina
        April 26, 2015 at 9:58 PM

        Thanks. It’s super disappointing to have graduated 3.9 GPA with a science degree, after working since I was 16 and throughout college, to have to work for $9 Americorps or $10/hour at a grocery store. I’m 30 with my first kid and still have not landed a “permanent” full time job (what’s that?).

        That grocery was Zupan’s on Belmont, which laid off the manager that hired me to bring in someone who knew nothing about the store and didn’t care about the people. It seems the grocery store culture doesn’t necessarily respect the workers/servers that stumble awake at 5 am to get to work flipping potato salad in bowls to look fresh and shiny like yesterday’s. And the owner has the nerve to ask you to “smile a little more” when you’re tetering over the counter, tryong not to hurt your back or fall in potato salad.

        AND the potato salad came from giant squeezy pouches.

        Lesson of the day: your server may be more educated than you, just not well off… And it’s her arms in your potato salad.

        • Moso
          May 20, 2015 at 11:02 PM

          I was at NSM (7 Corners) from 2006 to 2010. It was sobering to discover how many floor employees had master’s degrees. Also, if you ever leave the company (for whatever reason), you are not likely to get re-hired. Perhaps the pay has something to do with it, or a desire to find people who aren’t aware of how differently the company operated years ago?

      • Avery
        April 27, 2015 at 11:08 AM

        “Everyone in this city is well educated, skilled, and under employed.”

        That is not true and you know it.

      • jeffS
        February 8, 2016 at 8:10 AM

        MA in what? Women’s studies?

  5. Jude
    April 25, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    Very disappointing. We didn’t know New Seasons wasn’t locally owned any more. Stephen Babson doesn’t sound like a person we would want to support.

  6. L
    April 25, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    As a former employee, I can corroborate this article 100%. I made barely enough to eat and pay rent while working full time there. I agree that Fred Meyer and Safeway are awful places to work and that’s not okay- but that doesn’t make poor employer practices okay at New Seasons just because they are slightly better. Also, NSM advertises being a grocery store with a conscience. I was on food stamps and couldn’t afford to shop at my own workplace. My direct supervisor was sympathetic to her employees but was highly pressured not to give raises. Many of my coworkers were hired for cheap then refused anything more than a $.25 raise annually. It would take years to work up to a living wage and in the meantime we all had to work short staffed departments and do skilled labor that took training and expertise. I’m shocked that only 30 people showed up at the rally, over my time there I watched many people get burnt out and quit, most very unhappy with the outside perception of the company vs. the reality of actually working there and trying to pay bills.

    • Jane Doe
      April 28, 2015 at 9:12 PM

      Spot on L!

    • David Findlay
      May 2, 2015 at 2:12 PM

      I have a hard time believing you are telling the truth about your alleged experience at NSM. Not only is your description of working conditions so far afield from what I’ve experienced, if you were working full time how is it that you were eligible for Food Stamps? Are you a single parent with a bunch of kids? Even when I was on unemployment after being laid off from a $10.00 per hour job prior to working at NSM, I still made way too much to be eligible for Food Stamps.

    • Moso
      May 20, 2015 at 11:04 PM

      I’m disappointed I didn’t know about the rally.

  7. Ann
    April 25, 2015 at 8:26 AM

    The article is not about New Seasons in comparison to other grocery stores. Its about New Seasons compared to itself before a buy out. Clearly the way they treat their employees has been a point of pride and huge marketing tactic for conscientious consumers. I think it is valuable for everyone to know that the ideals that New Seasons purports are being lost in translation and that workers are not feeling prioritized.
    Ben, any cooperative grocery, farmers markets are great places to go. Sheridan’s has local meat as do some butchers. Cherry Sprout is one of my favorite markets. I am sure there are a bunch more that I don’t know about.

  8. jack
    April 25, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    Asher, you sound like a shill for New Seasons. This article is 100% spot on. I interviewed with new seasons. Their job website is a sham. A line cook posting where they tout $10.50-$15.81 starting “wage range” is a bait and switch tactic to get candidates in the door but then not offering a realistic wage based on experience. I am a executive chef who should have been offered the top end of the scales wage interviewing just for a line cook but they then had the balls to just offer $12.00 an hour with a possibility of a .4% increase in a year. Nonsense. You didn’t even read the article. The company is stuffed with Republicans who’s goals are anti-labor and pro greed. Fuck them. I’m not stepping foot in those stores ever again. Wake up already. ..

  9. worker
    April 25, 2015 at 9:10 AM

    new seasons market has been opening up more stores that are close to each other
    in return they need to move employees around to counter a loss in sales in relation to those new stores
    each store has a labor budget that is determined by sales.
    new seasons has steadily been riasing the wages of its workers since the company was founded.
    the only legitimate concern to changes is that the city is changing and becoming an expensive place to live
    we would all love more money for the work we do
    the company still shares quarterly profit with its employees

    • Daria
      April 28, 2015 at 9:10 PM

      Check your facts worker, 4 years ago starting pay almost across the board at NSM was $11.50, it’s now $10 or 10.50. Winco’s starting pay is $11.50. So although employees get an annual review with the possibility of a raise(not a guarantee)they have dropped the starting wages considerably.

      • David Findlay
        May 2, 2015 at 2:15 PM

        Check your facts Daria. Starting wages at NSM have not gone down.

  10. Dori
    April 25, 2015 at 1:26 PM

    I remember when New Seasons was one of the best places
    to work an “i’m really an artist/musician/etc” job in Portland…

    I recently came back to visit the “new” Portland – crazy expensive, traffic heavy, hip to the point of stupidity… Everyone talks about how expensive the natural foods store in my tiny town is – but i was appalled at how expensive New Seasons was, and why they felt the need to keep taking up space with more stores…

  11. April 25, 2015 at 1:35 PM

    Dear Asher,

    New Seasons shouldn’t be concerned with simply rising above the competition, it should be setting the standard for the best business model. As someone who worked very diligently for New Seasons last year, I can very confidently confirm that they have a long road ahead of them in order to improves their business practices… or lack there of. This isn’t just about raising the wages of their employees… it’s about improving the overall treatment and care of their employees… which was atrocious back when I was working there. They had a very serious lack of concern for the safety and well-being of their staff, among other issues.

    That being said, I’d still rather give them my business over the likes of Fred Meyer, Safeway, Haggen, Albertsons, etc… which might as well all be part of the same evil empire. I would agree that New Seasons is awesome in comparison with all those other cookie-cutter, corporate grocery chains, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement… and then some.

    Thanks for listening.

    LCK

  12. Margaret
    April 25, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    i am very concerned regarding the information that appears in this article. I am a dedicated New Seasons Shopper and I
    Am willing to stop spending my thousands of dollars a year there and switch to Whole Foods. I will not
    Support a grocery store that DOES NOT follow their mission or principles. I will not support a store that supports JEB BUSH.. You are in Oregon NOT Texas!!!

    • Amy
      April 25, 2015 at 9:01 PM

      You had better research where Whole Foods’ money goes too then. Do you really think an even bigger, more corporate place is worthy of the ideological change you’re seeking? Spend your money with local farmers, local co-ops, local butchers. Swapping one corporation for another is not the answer.

    • Jack Herber
      April 25, 2015 at 11:58 PM

      Shop where the incentives are for community — for customers AND workers. No outside owners. Food coops if the workers have a balance of influence to get good pay, benefits, fair treatment. Worker collectives if they care for the customers, probably not too hard to do. Farmers markets — find what and who you like, how well it works for them, what they need.

      People’s Food Coop has a Wednesday 2-7pm farmers market that I go to. Alberta Food Coop I hear good about. Food Front Coop, NW and SW? I don’t know them. LOTS of FARMERS MARKETS. People have organized non-store-front food coops. It takes engaging together + dedication to fair, compassionate, wise to build real community. To be the community we’re looking for, we can’t fall back on convenience shopping, the nearest corporate seduction. Plan ahead for shopping and everything, be together, so we can be and get what we all really need.

      The corporate incentive system is unavoidably immoral, exploitive, it seems to me, and it’s hard for any business not to have opposing incentives of making money and treating employees well. That’s why worker collectives, building a business with others if they are up to it. Be in OUR community as much as possible. Build and use tool libraries, etc.

      When we need businesses, inform each other to find ones that are engaged and responsive to us, and fair to any employees, probably a few small ones? Build community relations with them. Fairness comes when we all share the power.

    • Dave
      May 2, 2015 at 2:21 PM

      He’s one board member who’s on the board as a representative of Endeavor Capital, which manages other people’s money. If he has any personal ownership at all, it’s not much. The largest individual shareholder is Stan Amy, one of the founders and a very good guy. He made a very generous contribution toward Measure 92 to label GMOs, which is exactly opposite the sort of position a Bush supporter would take.

    • anonymous
      June 23, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      I’m also a NS shopper and am very concerned…about the provenance of facts in this piece. I found the link on a Facebook timeline of someone deep into conspiracy woo (chemtrails, trutherism, Ron Paul), hence all my flags have gone up.

      In addition I am on speaking terms with several employees and have never had the feeling I was talking to an underpaid drone. Granted, it wouldn’t be appropriate to volunteer such details to a customer, but having been an underpaid drone one can usually see the signs.

      Next time I think I’ll be making some discrete inquiries. Nothing like getting it from the horses mouth.

  13. Tony
    April 25, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    This is nothing but a blatant hot take. Try drawing conclusions from solid grounds, instead forsaking reason for page views. This is extremely poorly researched & written. Shame on you Mr. Shaw.

  14. Lettuce_gangster
    April 25, 2015 at 6:19 PM

    I’ve worked for New Seasons for almost 10 years, and for good reason. The pay is decent, the benefits are great, and the culture and community have been one of a kind. However, in the last 2-3 years this has all been changing very fast. About 5 years ago we sold a majority stake of the company to a venture capital firm, who has heavy representation on our board. Then a former Starbucks CEO, Wendy Collie, took over as our president. Since these two events, as well as our expansion into Washington and Bay Area markets, I have witnessed a pronounced change in the amount of respect for employees, real commitment to values, and job security. I don’t think that the issue should be about our minimum wage needing to be higher, but as a general shift in the company values as a whole.

  15. ex-kool-aiddrinker
    April 25, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    It’s funny, I know and have worked with several of the people that have made comments regarding this article from both sides. All very good people. I don’t believe that Asher is a shill….just misguided and still drinking the Kool aid. My wife and I worked a combined 16 years for the company and no longer do. Most things started in the article are true but maybe a little exaggerated. I still many friends working there that are paid a good wage with good benefits. ..but….is a matter of time til those things change. That is the nature of a no longer sustainable business model. I do know that ANYONE who speaks against the company in any way will eventually find themselves without a job there. That is the way they do business now. …long gone are the days when you could just call Brian.

  16. Sabrina
    April 25, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Any time venture capital comes in, you’re going to sell out some of your core values.
    Good to know, and I’ll be shopping elsewhere. They’re overpriced for what they provide, anyway. New Seasons, welcome to the free market, where people vote with their wallets.

  17. Billy C
    April 25, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    I worked at NSM in the beginning, and stayed for over ten years. They have been anti-union from the beginning. We were promised that would never be sold. But Brian Rhoter LIED. HE LIED TO OUR FACES IN MEETINGS. The deal had already been made with the bankers. Since the sale, layers and layers of management have been put in place and the workers value is diminished. Many workers from the start of the company have been fired or demoted in favor of inexperienced younger worker who will not question the regime. NSM is perpetrating a massive hoax on Portland. And they will not be moved by protest. Time to take some money out of their pockets!

    • Moso
      May 20, 2015 at 11:13 PM

      I know of someone who used to be in a managerial position who was comfortable doing what they did with no desire to move up. After several years they were asked to step down into a lower position to allow room for someone new who was interested in future promotions.

  18. Garth
    April 25, 2015 at 11:18 PM

    How much does the coop pay its employees? Nsm has compeditive wages and many opportunities for advancement. These bitter employees do not seem like a good cultural fit for NSM. They were not laid off, they were fired because they are lazy slackers who think they should be paid for doing nothing. Life is hard? Kids are expensive and you shouldn’t have had any. If they pay so bad, how come everyone in there is so damn happy? This article is a sham. Should the min wage go up? Of coarse. Is that Nsm responsible for lobbying for it? This cause is way out of line, jumping sharks and losing touch with workers. Find real victims and real villains you pathetic hacks.

  19. J
    April 26, 2015 at 1:41 AM

    i was going to editorialize, but i think i’ll just stick to the facts. selling drugs, drunk, and fucking at work. these are all stories i have heard about the old new seasons. people getting paid the same to completely slack off while others pick up the pace under the crushing volume in stores. this i have experienced. i have worked there 7 years, my last raise was as much as you can get, i now put away 20% of every paycheck into savings, i live a 5 minute bike ride away, except for all the free pastries we’re inundated with, i shop at my own store and eat really healthy, i can afford my gym membership and acupuncture, and now i’m getting into management and learning new skills. working at NSm has been one of the only constants in my chaotic life.

    this reminds me a wise rap group once said, “they say you are what you eat, so i strive to eat healthy, my goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy, cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways, we got to start taking better care of ourselves.”

    its a moot point since we don’t just serve lefties and we never have served just lefties. people from all points on the political spectrum shop there, so voting with your dollars may not have any effect. go ahead and shop at the coop, i do!

    • J
      April 26, 2015 at 1:49 AM

      oh yeah and i never once had foodstamps!

    • ikkyu
      April 26, 2015 at 10:26 PM

      You have worked at New Seasons for seven years, so you know that you moved up the payscale at a rate no new employees will ever do, since management decided to cut the pace of raises by something like half. You also have shares that they gave out once, but (I think we all know) will never do again. Is that ok with you? You’re proud of yourself for working up the ladder, taking good care of yourself, making good choices… Well, right on, man—you should be proud. What does any of that have to do with your present day co-workers, those who ostensibly will be working under your supervision soon, not being able to live sufficiently sustainable lives making the poverty wages that they earn for working damn hard under far more crushing volume than ever? At least at my store that’s how it is. Be proud, but don’t be superior, brother. You don’t work harder than me. Maybe as hard, not harder.

  20. P
    April 26, 2015 at 9:21 AM

    $15 an hour is roughly $30k a year. There are tons of college educated individuals working in fields like education and social welfare making a comparable amount, while providing a service to the community. Are they underpaid? Yes, but the market determines price. If you want a higher wage, learn a new skill. I believe in treating employees with respect, and providing a good work environment. However, if little/no education is required for your skill, you shouldn’t be shocked when your wage is low and your options are limited. As far as being able to afford housing near your place of work, this is not the company’s responsibility. I work downtown and don’t want to pay high pearl area rent, so I chose to live further away and take the max.

    • ikkyu
      April 26, 2015 at 10:06 PM

      “The market determines price” is not a fact, it is an ideology—a crappy, failed one. Here is a fact: when so called low-skill jobs (which surely make up the vast majority of jobs in the US) pay living wages or better, the economy thrives. Because corporations are by nature (and by law) greedy entities that customarily view labor as the greatest drain on their profits, the only way to achieve such wages is usually through labor organization. This is why the US has such a rich history of labor organization and unionization. This is why FDR placed labor organization protections for workers in his New Deal legislation–legislation which was severely weakened in the forties to the country’s great detriment. Shop wherever you want, bub. Make your choices with good information, though, not with a head full of neoliberal bullshit.

  21. Jo Haemer
    April 26, 2015 at 9:39 AM

    Costco is union. With benefits.

    • Sissy Anahit
      April 26, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      Your claim is mainly false.

      Some Costco stores are unionized, the majority are not. The unionized stores are generally on the east coast. This is easily verified by reading the paragraph on “Labor Relations” on Costco’s Wikipedia page.

  22. joan
    April 26, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    For as long as I have been a member of Peoples I have never been disappointed in their policy making. They have been consistent and NEVER influenced or bought out by the corporate world. I recently started doing a little more shopping at NS bec of it being so close to my house and of course they have huge sales from time to time. More and more both they an WF are having these sales. I know from my education in merchandising this type of sale does not happen without some big corporate money.

    On another note I would also encourage you all to start asking workers at Gap, Old Navy and even Banana what their situation is like and how much they make. I am sure many of you have read about the “on call” dispute, wait all day to see if you are going to be called in for a 4 hour shift with no pay for on call and no extra money if you do work, no increase in pay until 1 year of being there, 75% being part-time thus no benefits, etc etc. Yet GapInc talks about being the most moral company. Bring in the 20 year olds, get them excited about a title, get some good work out of them…until reality sets in and they leave (you never get laid off because they don’t want to pay UE)…then start the process all over. With all the money they put into training over and over people could be making more wages.

    I understand that many of us making comments here probably aren’t making 6 figures and thus need to shop at places we can afford. I am not saying buy only at Food coops, MIrador and the likes but I am saying as the workers at the grocery and clothing stores mentioned above about their situation and then be brave enough to post on social media for them. Many of them are afraid to because they can’t afford to lose their jobs

    • Garth
      April 26, 2015 at 11:50 AM

      Seriously, what is the pay at the coop? If we decide where to shop based on how much employers pay their staff, I want to know who makes the most? It ain’t the coop. Am I wrong? If I am to assume that the happiest employees are paid the most, then I must assume that it is NSM. What a weird reason to choose where to shop. I think there is something romantic about shopping at the coop. It is too small to support small farmers. It’s too small to pay anyone a decent wage. It’s too small to treat employees fairly. What is the longest anyone has ever worked at a coop? Insanity.

      • paulcone
        April 26, 2015 at 6:45 PM

        At least some positions at People’s start in the $12/hr range, but they also have paid medical, dental, etc. I think Miles and Dusty have both worked there at least 10 years.

      • Mary
        April 28, 2015 at 5:08 PM

        I worked at a very successful co-op in another town. I was7 there for 7 years, left in 2003, earning $16/hr at the time. I can think of at least 6 of my old coworkers who’ve worked there for 15+ years.

      • Dave
        May 2, 2015 at 2:31 PM

        Some of the Co-ops pay pretty well. For staff workers that is. Most of them have “working member” volunteers who work in exchange for a food discount. The volunteer labor in effect subsidizes staff pay.

  23. guido s. casey
    April 26, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    All you have to look at is that the CEO of New Seasons held a fund raiser for Jeb bush. Enough said.

    • ikkyu
      April 26, 2015 at 9:52 PM

      Wrong. But close enough.Stephen Babson is on the Board of Directors of New Seasons Market, he is also Managing Director (if I have my info right) of Endeavour Capital, which is the venture capital firm that owns a controlling majority of New Seasons. The CEO of New Seaosns, by the way, is a woman named Wendy Collie, who came to New Seasons in 2012 after serving in senior management at Starbucks, and something called Kindercare, a for-profit early childcare and education corp.

      • paulcone
        April 26, 2015 at 10:10 PM

        KinderCare, the nation’s largest chain of daycares, is based here in Portland, and they have 30,000 employees globally.

  24. bill
    April 26, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    shop somewhere else, the coops: Food Front has 2 stores, Peoples’ and Alberta. That’s 4 coop stores. Shop at Cherry Sprout or Food Fight. There are farmers’ markets. Take your money elsewhere and call NS and tell them that you will not support them because the profits are being spent to lower the federal minimum wage.

  25. Lance Carson
    April 27, 2015 at 12:32 AM

    Yes, form a union because union grocery workers are so happy. Get rid of blue slip because that would go bye bye in a union house – yet it’s like an additional $200 in savings each month if you use it. Your 10 minute breaks will be that – instead of 15-20 minutes which most take now. You’ll be required to meet minimum stocking requirements – yes, facing x punt of cans or restocking x amount of product. Any requested time off will need pot to cover that time off.

    Work somewhere else and you’ll know why people at Fred Meyer & Safeway are pissed off all the time. Oh and don’t forget your dues – $30 a month out of your paycheck because if it’s a union house you’ll have to join, there is no option.

    • FoodForThought
      April 29, 2015 at 1:09 PM

      When my husband worked in a union shop (8 years ago), union dues had come to about $44 per month. It wasn’t optional, but it also included our health insurance. When he went to NSM, we had to start paying out about $300/month for health insurance. Ouch.

  26. Jeff
    April 27, 2015 at 7:05 AM

    1. “How can these employees really expect new seasons company to just snap their fingers and pay them $15/hr”

    Because they can – and should. All of the wealth which New Seasons brings in…is wealth which the workers produce. They’re entitled to all of it. Nevermind the pittance that $15/hr represents.

    2. Fred Meyer’s hyper-exploitative…awful treatment of it’s employees – doesn’t make the exploitation occurring at New Seasons any less. Exploitation isn’t something that happens on a curve. It’s always wrong.

    3. Anyone who thinks New Seasons is a champion of it’ employees…and is an employee…as Stockholm Syndrome. You need some class consciousness. Your loyalty to the organization exploiting you is ridiculous. Show better solidarity with your co-workers. Don’t be a blockhead.

    • David Findlay
      May 2, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      You really don’t understand the economics. Even the “not for profit” co-ops can’t afford to pay all that much and those wages are possible because they also have unpaid volunteers.

  27. Billy C
    April 27, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    I think the minimum wage raising to $15 is a side issue to the changes that people are feeling at NSM these days. I sounds to me like it’s become a lot less tolerable to work there because of management changes. Cuts in staffing, less experienced workers being hired, arrogant and distant management. Several old friends that are long time employees and total pros have been passed over during recent restructuring. Obviously management wants obedient drones who will not question management. The stores feel different than they used to. Many workers are just going through the motions. None of the excitement that used to be in stores in the first few years of operation is evident. NSM is trying to trade on the old, original image of NSM. That’s died years ago, Now it’s run by bankers and conformists with no imagination. Shop the cooops, Sheridan Fruit, farmers markets. There are plenty of alternatives. But stop giving NSM your money.

  28. PDXbound
    April 27, 2015 at 8:34 AM

    Hey all you New Season’s customers reading this. Start tipping the checkout staff! Give them $5, $10, or whatever you can. If every customer tipped their checkout person just $1, imagine the difference it would make to in that checkers life. Make the management and owners realize they don’t hold all the cards. Watch as they try to stop the tipping. Watch as they choke on their own corporate policies. If you can’t afford to tip, then at least tell your checkers their job matters and you appreciate what they are doing.

    • cy
      April 27, 2015 at 10:13 PM

      Pretty sure my friend who works in the deli at a new seasons store told me that they can’t accept tips. I’ll try to confirm that.

      • Daria
        April 28, 2015 at 8:31 PM

        You are correct, accepting tips not allowed.

        • David Findlay
          May 2, 2015 at 2:39 PM

          I don’t know of any grocery stores that allow tips. If they did, you can be sure that some workers would give customers “discounts” in exchange for tips. It’s a lot harder to monitor that sort of thing than it is in a business such as a restaurant.

  29. jane
    April 27, 2015 at 9:37 AM

    why is it that i have tried to look for a list of new seasons board of directors and their bios and can’t find anywhere?

  30. Aaron
    April 27, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    People at NSM think they have it bad… Try working at Albertson’s… I am a journeyman clerk with the local 555 and that pay is 16.45. It took a lot of hours and hard work to move up to that pay and I have been stuck there with no clear path to advancement for almost six years… The company is full of collusion and not only are promotions very few and far between, but the only people who ever seem to get promoted are “company” men who hobnob in the office with the higher ups in stead of being out on the floor working hard and giving good customer service… I am a night time manager that means I am the only person in charge of the store and all departments after 4:30pm to midnight.. I am also the only production person and the only backup checker… It is my responsibility to fill the add, face the store, cover breaks and lunches, handle all customer complaints/questions and God help me if someone calls in sick… The discount at Albertson’s is a pathetic 10% off the Albertson’s brand only.. When we have a holiday like Thanksgiving they put some food in the break room and most of the time they give us expired bakery pies… The store directors do everything they can to circumvent the union and the union is so brainwashed by the employer it isn’t even funny. I worry about the minimum wage increase to 15$ because it just doesn’t feel like the new person who may be a lot younger and less experienced wouldn’t have to earn it the way I did.. It’s already hard to hire “quality” workers. I don’t see the company giving me a wage increase anytime soon and they just cut bonuses for the position I have been working towards… Anyways, I don’t really believe that NSM employees have it that bad…

    • Daria
      April 28, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      You better stay where you are Aaron, clerks top out at under $16 at NSM… Lets do the math, if you were lucky enough to get a .35 raise at your annual review, with starting pay of $10.50, roughly 10+ years before you’d be at top pay. Pretty sad I’d say.

      • David Findlay
        May 2, 2015 at 2:49 PM

        You forgot about about the “no clear path to advancement” part of his comment. At NSM, it’s not at all difficult to move up to a lead spot that pays more than the clerk job. Some people even move up to store manager faster than that. He also didn’t mention about how low the starting pay is at the union stores. Until you’ve done it, you have no idea what Aaron is talking about. You think you work hard? Arguably, you probably do but it’s another order of magnitude to walk in Aaron’s shoes.

  31. bill rockingham
    April 28, 2015 at 7:34 PM

    New Seasons is the best place in town to shop for food. The employees are friendly to the shoppers. There are good hot dinners, salads. The fish and meats are always fresh. Organics abound. The labelling is clear. I always find what I want there. I hope this unhappy article doesn’t kill the jobs of so many workers in a successful enterprise. Unionizing will not be the answer at a grocery store. It will be the kiss of death for the company. Please find another way.

    • Daria
      April 28, 2015 at 8:42 PM

      You don’t have to worry about this article killing the jobs at NSM, corporate NSM is already doing that. Have you not noticed the steady decline in help at the meat counter, in the deli, at the produce department? I can no longer buy lunch at the deli because there is only one person working the counter and I only have 30 minutes for lunch. I can’t tell you how ridiculous it is to sit in the semi annual MANDATORY store meeting and listen to how much profit NSM has made the last 2 quarters and how they have increased labor hours! Really?! Not in any of the departments that I’ve worked in or am aware of. But what I am clearly aware of is what I mentioned above.

  32. Cody
    April 29, 2015 at 7:59 AM

    Wow just wow. Have you ever been to a NSM? Your blog is hilariously inaccurate. I have spent my entire working life in a grocery store (Safeway, Sprouts, NSM). At NSM I have never seen someone replaced by temp worker at lower pay. I also only see temp workers at holidays. I also see those temp workers turn into regular employees almost every time. All your accusations are completely false.
    Where does NSM fault lie? The had too big of a heart in the past. They would hire the nicest people who just didn’t do shit. These people are the people who “protest” at the stores, or are still employed and bitch all day long about how we are “going corporate”. These people are slowly being weeded out. The people that are replacing them come from other grocery chains. People who want to show up, offer great service, and do work at the same time: these people get promoted. These people are happy.
    I would also love a 15$ minimum wage, so why dont we talk to the people who, you know, write the laws… Instead of picking on your home town grocery store. You folks aren’t at Freddys, Haggen, Natural Grocer, World Market, Whole fucking Foods with your dumbass signs. Learn where the true social injustices live, and god help us if Sprouts comes to PDX.

  33. Susan
    April 29, 2015 at 8:05 PM

    You’re kinda full of crap! I’ve seen the same people working at the Sellwood cite for years…all happy, cool!!! Don’t lie and stir up shit that isn’t there!
    Support workers and friendly workplaces!
    Drop the ass holiness!!!

  34. jane doe
    April 29, 2015 at 9:50 PM

    Its great that the gentrification and housing costs are being brought up because its a huge issue and portland is getting ruined and becoming a concrete jungle, but its sad that we had to have this happen to bring it to light. The gentrification has been going on for QUITE some time and I find it disappointing that its just now being brought, and for the reasons its being brought up. A lot of the argument sounds like a bunch of ‘Portland Privilege’

  35. Nogogmaplease
    May 1, 2015 at 3:41 PM

    There have been some intelligent, sincere people sharing great opinions but each time they are slapped down by some angry dogmatic jackass. All this hype and hatred of the evil corporation exposed is so [offensive term removed by editor]. There are some people that no matter what the circumstance or condition they will inheritly focus on the negative. They find some joy or make believe power by challenging others. Where are their examples of good companies? Stinky co-ops? Farmers direct? It is all misguided fantasy and so void of practicality that is pains me to read their comments. New Seasons does more for its staff and for its community then the lions share of other companies. The goal of all business should be to be profitable and to thrive so that those who are conscious can effect change. Quit bitching about the crumbs and learn to bake your own cake.

  36. May 4, 2015 at 10:19 PM

    Unfortunately in the end it’s all about the Benjamins. Know where your dollars go and make them your political voice. Shop small and local. I like portlandfarmtofamily.com for local produce and wholesale prices (order from the catalog that new season does!!) in sw Portland.

  37. Jennifer
    August 11, 2016 at 8:29 PM

    I work at the Happy Valley New Seasons. I’d just like to say that although the company is growing and it is changing, it is still the best grocery store that you can work at – if we’re leaving out small businesses, like co-ops which I’m sure are wonderful to work at. I’ve worked at a few other grocers and none of them have as great of perks as New Seasons. Of course, the people you work with do make a big difference in your experience at work, so it’s possible that some other people who have worked for New Seasons had a terrible time. In my experience, the starting pay is higher than any similar store ($12.00 for the lowest position), they do not force people to work fewer hours than will allow them benefits, you can sample anything (customers can too!), they have free classes you can take, they have a program to help employees get a low interest rate loan in a case of hardship (needing to move, family emergency, car trouble), they have great health benefits, you are able to take home food that can not be sold..the list goes on. You’re working at a grocery store, you’re not going to be making a huge amount to start out, but you wouldn’t at most other places either. New Seasons is still a great place to work.

  38. Christian Barrow
    February 27, 2017 at 4:26 PM

    I completely agree with this story. I wish this was a bigger news outlet and received more attention. I was an employee for almost 2 years. It seemed great and like a place I wanted to work at for the rest of my life. 6 months after I started a cooperate business took over and things started to decline.
    The super nice dynamic friendly managers, bosses I had when I started that had all been there for 5 years and ABOVE ALL STARTED LEAVING ONE BY ONE. I was told when I started working there that they were a LIFESTYLE company and that they CARED ABOUT PEOPLES FAMILYs AND HOMELIVES. They knew that life sometimes happened and they would work with you.
    I had started with a nights and weekend schedule. That meant I almost was never home while my family was and had no way of spending quality time with them except Monday and Tuesday nights, which is probably some of the worst times during the week to have quality time.
    I would get home after everyone was asleep, and would try to b up with the kids before they went to school, but would be exhausted and cranky early in the morning when I would see them.
    I was told that everyone started with those hours but eventually was given day time hours. After a year of not seeing any day time hours and my home life deteriorating as a result of not being able to be there I started to SPEAK UP, which was also supposed to be a value of that business.
    The more I SPOKE UP, the worse the treatment I received and my situation became.
    It seemed like they were targeting me and giving me especially shitty hours due to the fact that I had family issues. I was a father with kids and a home life and a special circumstance.
    I was really angry and taken back when I noticed that they were hiring people in there lower twenties, with no family’s, no issues, no special needs that of course would do anything they asked without question,
    and those people would be given the hours and schedules I had been asking for, begging and pleading for,
    for the sake of my family, for over a year.
    Eventually my son started cutting himself. I felt that it was in part to my lack of being in his life and that he had just come from living with his mother for years in a bad situation, and was finally with me full time, but now I was gone.
    I asked myself, I’m not a fire fighter, I’m not an ER doctor or a navy seal. I work in a Deli.
    Why am I always gone? My son must have been Wondering the same thing.
    After almost 2 years of begging and pleading and doing anything I could to get better hours I had a meeting with some store managers.
    I explained my situation and asked why there couldn’t be some kind of compromise, why couldn’t I get even a few days were I would have hours that would allow me to be home more.
    The answer I got shocked me, and it was an answer I received a few times.
    THE NEEDS OF THE BUISNESS ARE WHAT MATTER MOST.
    Not my family’s welfare,
    I was a good worker. I was a hard worker, good with customers as well as performing my job duties hard and fast and to the best of my abilities.
    Eventually I went to HR with this problem. HR had changed a lot as well. Our store advocate was distant, cold, and never around.
    I was working one day and it seemed like everyone was being over nice. All of the management were being so polite and nice, and my job duties for the day were really easy. To easy. Something felt wrong.
    I asked my lead at one point, am I getting fired today?
    Something doesn’t feel right.
    He said NOOO!! OF COURSE NOT!
    Why would you say that?
    At the end of my shift I heard my name and was called up to the office.
    I was accused of stealing and fired.
    I never stole anything from that store, although I saw Managers, the new type, sexually harass, treat like shit employees, as well as walk off with food without paying for it.
    They said they had OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE that I had been stealing. I asked them to show me and they refused. I spoke to HR, they also refused to show me.
    I fought this with UNEMPLOYMENT because if I hadn’t I would not have had a way of providing for my family for a bit.
    It came for the case to go in front of a judge.
    NEW SEASONS NEVER SHOWED UP, so I won in my opinion because they had no way of proving there accusation, they just wanted me gone.
    being fired from there was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Its turns out most businesses will treat you better and take into account the needs of your family and home life far greater than NEW SEASONS ever would.
    They are only interested in EXPANDING and growing there brand.
    I hope this helps some one out there. If anyone ever wants to ask me about this further please feel free to contact me.

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