BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Workers at Lexington Co-op Markets have started the process toward organizing a union.
On Wednesday, Lexington Co-op Workers United sent a letter to the Co-op’s Board of Directors, announcing the formation of an organizing committee.
They also called on management to sign the Fair Election Principles and recognize their union, Workers United Upstate New York. This is the same union which helped Spot Coffee and Starbucks in their unionization efforts.
“People have been concerned about wages and raises, working conditions, worker safety – especially during the pandemic. People want to make sure their voices are heard,” said Philip Kneitinger, who works at the co-op’s Hertel location. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t care about the business, wanting it to thrive. We want it to be its best self.”
Workers at both the Hertel and Elmwood Avenue stores have been signing cards to show interest in forming a union. Kneitinger said, at this point, a majority of workers have voiced interest in unionizing. Eventually, a vote to form the union could be held.
In a statement, Lexington Co-op management said “the co-op strongly believes in the rights of staff to participate in organizing activities as well as their right to refrain from participating in organizing activities…We believe that all staff should have an opportunity to decide whether they want to unionize as well as be informed with pertinent and accurate information to do so.”
But workers looking to unionize tell News 4 they have yet to have any meaningful engagement with management since sending their letter. Instead, they said General Manager Tim Bartlett sent a letter to employees that felt “copied and pasted.”
News 4 asked to speak with Lexington Co-op management, but were told they were only issuing the statement at this time.
The workers gave management until 2 p.m. Friday to recognize their union. Friday night, workers at the co-op told News 4 that management rejected recognizing Lexington Co-op Workers United’s unionizing efforts.
Lexington Co-op provided News 4 with the following statement:
This is a developing story, check back for updates.