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By : Stephen Grigelevich

5 min read

In the service of transparency, The Compass would like to acknowledge its relationship with the owners of City Feed and Supply, who have long supported the paper through on-site distribution and financial contributions from advertisement.

Members of Jamaica Plain’s newest union, City Feed Unite(CFU), are continuing to receive support from residents, umbrella union International Workers of the World (IWW), and the greater food service union community of Boston following recognition of their union status by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The 20-10 vote was announced on June 14th by the NLRB, the country’s federal union regulatory body, granting CFU status as the official and exclusive collective bargaining unit of Jamaica Plain’s City Feed & Supply Co. “We listened to the NLRB ballot counting as it was live streamed” shared Emery Spooner, worker and organizing member at CFU. Spooner enthusiastically acknowledged that just hours before our interview, 1369 Coffeehouse of Cambridge, MA, received NLRB recognition of their union, as well. “Now, along with 1369, we are the only two coffee houses in Boston, I believe, who weren’t voluntarily recognized by the owners and who then went on to win union victories after an NLRB ballot count.”

“It’s proof that all the time they spent having one on one conversations with people actually worked,” said one CFU-affiliated IWW organizer, who asked not to be named in order to protect future employment security. “They were able to change their coworkers minds’ substantially.” Regarding the 20-10 City Feed vote, Spooner acknowledged that in addition to the 10 votes cast against unionizing, several employees did not cast a ballot. He said this should be taken as a sign that more work is to be done in ensuring all voices are included in the union’s vision and development.

Where will City Feed Unite go from here? Daniel Tracey, a City Feed worker and new CFU member, said he hopes and expects that a collective bargaining contract will be agreed upon within the next few months. “We’re looking for a formalized pay structure, paid assault trainings, and in general more transparent and clearer communication between management and workers, in both directions.” The IWW organizer added that management is legally bound to begin a good faith process towards a contract with their workers. “We’re encouraging [CFU members] at this point to get a sense of the things that management is most willing to make changes to, and which things are going to require a longer negotiation process.”

When asked about CFU’s effect on the greater Jamaica Plain community, Spooner and Tracey both agreed that they hoped to inspire local workers. “I’m hoping to demystify the process of unionizing.” Spooner declined to comment on whether workers from Jamaica Plain businesses had contacted them to speak about unionizing. Rather, Spooner invited people interested in learning more about the unionizing and collective bargaining process to contact them by email at City Feed owner David Warner did reply to requests for comment on the NLRB’s CFU decision.

Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #148 July 2022


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