Investigation of Food Co-op continues

The Ashland Food Co-op continues to be investigated over an unfair labor practices complaint filed against its management by a union in mid-November.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which some employees have been trying to join since last April, filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the pro-union workers at the Co-op.

"We do have internal timelines that we try our best to meet, but we don't always," said Jim Kobe, assistant to the regional director at the Seattle NLRB office.

"The investigation is still ongoing."

Kobe said the investigation into the Co-op's ULP, which was filed Oct. 11, is behind its initial two-month completion schedule, but he could not provide an expected date for it to conclude.

Until then, the Co-op will have to wait for a determination on the legitimacy of the 11 charges in the complaint. "I'm sure there are things moving behind the scenes that we are not aware about," said Annie Hoy, outreach manager for the Co-op.

"We haven't heard anything back yet, so right now it's just wait and see."

Anne Dietz, a UFCW representative, said the union went ahead with the complaint after it received reports of Co-op managers monitoring pro-union employees' Facebook pages, pulling employees aside to question them about their commitment to the union and asking them to sign an anti-union petition.

Kobe said after the investigation determines the merit or nonmerit of the charges, the union will be asked to withdraw the nonmerit charges, and the Co-op will be asked to reach a settlement for each charge with merit.

The decision to carry on with an election to unionize the Co-op is up to the pro-union employees, who firstly, alongside UFCW, will have to file a petition to hold that election with the NLRB.

In September, pro-union employees at the Co-op said they had enough signatures to hold an election. Ultimately, they withheld from filing for an election, and instead filed the ULP, suggesting that the fairness of such an election had been skewed by the Co-op management's actions, said Dietz.

"We're just waiting on some kind of movement from the NLRB, before we can move forward," said Hoy.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

Share This Story