Workers' Victory Expected May 7

Hundreds of workers at grocery stores in Northampton, Greenfield, and Brattleboro recently formed a union. On May 7, the Northampton workers are expected to finish negotiating their first union contract with their bosses. They work at River Valley Market “Then we will vote on ratification,” River Valley Market worker Gabriel Quaglia told the Valley Post on May 4. Union workers elect a few of their co-workers to meet with their bosses to negotiate a contract. When a deal is reached, all the workers vote on whether to approve it.

John Cevasco works at Greenfields Market in Greenfield. Workers there and at the store’s branch in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts joined the same union that Quaglia and his co-workers joined. So did workers at the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Cevasco told the Valley Post on May 4 that the union will soon start negotiating with the bosses from the Greenfield and Shelburne Falls stores. The Brattleboro workers are bargaining with the boss of the Brattleboro Food Co-op, “with an anti-union lawyer sitting at the table for management,” Cevasco said.

Brattleboro Food Co-op manager Alex Gyori did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment for this article.

The workers at all four stores are members of

In recent decades, the richest Americans have gotten richer, while the middle class has gotten smaller and the ranks of the poor have swelled. Union workers in the U.S. make about 29 percent more money than non-union workers. That’s around $9,300 a year extra for the average worker who joins a union. For Latino workers, the union advantage is about 50 percent; for black workers, approximately 31 percent. This data is from

Millions of workers in the U.S. are union members, including workers at Stop and Shop and UPS.

Non-union workers can be fired at any time for no reason. Workers who belong to a union can only be fired for just cause.

More information about unions in the Valley is at:


Grocery workers unionize

Great news about the union victories for the workers. However, union workers only have "just cause" protection against firings and other discipline if they can succeed in negotiating that provision into their collective contract. There are, unfortunately, quite a few union workers in the US who do not have full just cause protections from dismissal. This is another symptom of both the casualization of the labor force and the weakness of the current labor and workers' movement. Sure hope that is changing in our little corner of the world.

Joe Berry
Jamaica, VT (and Berkeley, CA)

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