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Workers at MOM’s grocery store in Timonium will vote on whether to unionize

Produce worker Evan Orfanidis stocks cherry tomatoes at MOM's in Timonium.

Workers at MOM’s Organic Market in Timonium are expected to decide in the coming weeks whether to follow the lead of MOM’s employees in Hampden and unionize.

Local 570 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking to represent the grocery store’s 65 full- and part-time employees who would be part of a bargaining unit. The union has proposed scheduling a vote for Nov. 18.

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If workers join the Teamsters, they will become the second unionized workforce in the family-owned chain that employs more than 1,000 at stores in five states and Washington, including 10 locations in Maryland. Workers at the Hampden store voted 58-5 Aug. 26 to unionize with the Teamsters after a monthslong campaign at the store.

The company, which says its mission is to protect and restore the environment, said every employee makes at least $15 an hour. MOM’s was started by CEO Scott Nash in 1987 as a home delivery business out of his mom’s garage, making its first delivery to a customer in Rockville.

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“We love MOM’s team members,” Breahna Bair, the grocer’s communications manager, said in an email. “We strive to provide extraordinary benefits. We respect their choice to organize.”

Workers at the Hampden store in The Rotunda mall on 40th Street reached out to the union earlier this summer with concerns over wages, paid time off, and job security and safety, said Moe Jackson, vice president and organizer for Local 570 in Baltimore.

After the Hampden vote, MOM’s workers in Timonium and two other stores contacted the union, Jackson said. He did not identify the two other stores and said they are in early stages of organizing. Workers in Hampden are preparing for contract negotiations with the grocer.

The workers at each of the locations have similar concerns, he said.

“The wages were the biggest problem,” Jackson said. The grocer would “bring people in with higher wages than people that were working there. There was no structure in place on how you get your increases.”

Workers get paid time off but only after two years, and he said they are not paid extra for holidays.

The company said it offers numerous benefits, including a free meal during shifts, a 30% store discount, a 401(k) plan, health benefits, paid sick, vacation and bereavement leave, discounted gym memberships, an $88 credit for Allbirds shoes, hazard pay during the pandemic and other perks.

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Before the Hampden store vote, two workers appeared on a pro-union podcast called “43-15″ and said some co-workers were struggling to pay rent in Baltimore. The workers said they believed MOM’s was trying to mislead workers about unions.

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In an interview Wednesday, Natalia De Oliveira, a worker at the Hampden store for more than a year and a half, said she and other workers are heading into bargaining feeling “optimistic and we truly hope that the company bargains in good faith with us.”

De Oliveira, who works as a stocker and cashier, said it’s unrealistic for workers earning $15 an hour to afford to live in Baltimore. And because she has not worked at the grocer long enough to get paid time off and has limited sick leave, she loses pay if she needs to care for her mother or gets sick herself. De Oliveira said she hurt her back at work and needed to take days off that were unpaid.

“It is outrageous that we have a cap of five sick days a year,” she said. “It’s really not good. We are feeding everybody. We are essential workers.”

Jackson said MOM’s workers have been encouraged by unionization efforts at other retail and service employers with historically non-union workplaces, such as Starbucks, Apple and Amazon.

Workers at Apple in Towson won national attention after becoming the first of the tech giant’s U.S. employees to unionize. They are preparing for bargaining, represented by the Washington, D.C.-based International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers through a newly formed Coalition of Organized Retail Employees.

The Towson Apple workers’ decision to unionize came less than two months after Starbucks baristas in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood became the first of the coffee chain’s Maryland employees to organize.


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