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Norman Natural Grocers workers vote to join union

Picketers gather outside the Natural Grocers in Norman to show support for the workers organizing to join a union.
Hannah France
Picketers gather outside the Natural Grocers in Norman to show support for the workers organizing to join a union.

After years of organizing, workers at the Natural Grocers Norman location voted 11-9 to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000 on Thursday.

The workers are the first Natural Grocers employees to successfully vote to unionize their store. Some Starbucks and Appleworkers in the OKC metro have done the same in recent years.

Natural Grocers employee and union organizer, Bridget Burns, compared the presence of a union for its workers to the company’s use of third party verification to ensure the quality of its products.

"They have third party verification systems for organic produce and for pasture raised dairy, and I think having a third party to verify the treatment of workers is within the values of the company," Burns said. "Trusting those of us at the store level to collectively raise our voice in this way, I think could ultimately be much better for the company in the long run." 

Following the election, Natural Grocers Public Relations Director Katie Macarelli released the following statement:

Since 1955 Natural Grocers has been a family-operated company committed to our Five Founding Principles, including "Commitment to Community" and "Commitment to Crew."

We respect that 11 out of 20 eligible Crew Members at our store in Norman, Oklahoma voted in favor of the UFCW acting as their bargaining agent. Natural Grocers will bargain in good faith with the UFCW in support of all Norman Crew members and continue to foster a culture of open communication and mutual respect.

We continue to believe that having a direct working relationship with our Crew members better serves their interests, without an intermediary in the middle.

After the National Labor Relations Board certifies the election, the workers can petition the company to bargain for a contract.

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Hannah France started her work in public radio at KBIA while studying journalism at the University of Missouri. While there, she helped develop and produce a weekly community call-in show, for which she and her colleagues won a Gracie Award. Hannah takes interest in a wide variety of news topics, which serves her well as a reporter and producer for KGOU.
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