Farmers market workers in Reston, Merrifield and Oakton vote to unionize

At the Mosaic District FRESHFARM Farmers’ Market (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Workers at the regional nonprofit FRESHFARM, which operates three farmers markets in Fairfax County, voted to unionize with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 earlier this week.

FRESHFARM worker Ariana MacMartin told FFXnow that the hope is a union can help workers at the farmers markets negotiate for better pay and more job security, as well as hopefully reduce turnover.

“We’ve asked for higher pay and better benefits, but we realized we couldn’t affect change without a union,” MacMartin said.

MacMartin said the specific demands are still in negotiation.

The unionization effort includes about 25 workers who staff and operate FRESHFARM’s 28 markets in the D.C. area, including sites at the Mosaic District, Reston and Oakton, according to UFCW Local 400.

Employees filed for a union election in December. Ballots were distributed on Jan. 18, and National Labor Relations Board officials counted votes on Feb. 8.

While other workers have had to fight tooth and nail for unionization, MacMartin said FRESHFARM has been an extremely agreeable partner in the process.

In a statement, FRESHFARM said:

FRESHFARM is pleased to announce that our farmers market staff have voted to unionize. The organization strives to create the best farmers markets in the region, and having a professional, well-trained workforce is front and center of these efforts. FRESHFARM management is enthusiastic about working with a collective bargaining unit committed to our mission and shared values of improving our workers’ conditions to ensure we continue to best serve our region.

MacMartin said her hope is that the negotiations and improvements can help inspire other farmers market workers.

“I want to unionize every farmers market,” MacMartin said. “My hope is our message spreads to strengthen the working class and we can have our needs met.”

Read more on FFXnow…

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