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Workers at Corner Bodo’s store to unionize

A majority of employees at the Bodo’s Bagels on University Avenue are seeking to unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union announced Tuesday afternoon.

The workers will hold a press conference Wednesday with local officials. On Tuesday, the employees asked the store’s management to voluntary recognize their union, but management have so far refused to meet with staff, according to union officials.

Bodo’s management could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Employees who are part of the organizing committee said they wanted to form a union in order to address several concerns including understaffing, wages that they say don’t keep with the area’s cost of living and inadequate paid sick leave.

“I’m unionizing because in the three years I’ve worked at Bodo’s, starting pay has never been a living wage,” said Malcolm Augat, a baker at Bodo’s and member of the union organizing committee, in the news release.

“While inflation and the cost of living in Charlottesville keep going up, our wages are not keeping pace. In effect, we’re making less and less each year. If this keeps up, we won’t be able to afford to live in the city where we work.”

A February job posting listed the starting pay at $15 an hour.

The next step in the process will be for workers to vote for or against unionizing via an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

The United Food and Commercial Workers said in the news release that the union effort includes about 14 employees at the Corner Bodo’s location, which is one of three in the Charlottesville area.

Scott Smith, of Bodo’s, said management supports “the right of our employees to choose whether or not they want to bring in a third-party representative.”

“We have always worked hardest to be that advocate by offering substantially above market wages and hands on, proactive, compassionate management,” he said. “Our concern, as always, is for the well-being of the culture that has always made Bodo’s an extraordinary place to work.”

Bodo’s first opened in 1988.

Kieran Williams, who has worked at Bodo’s for two and a half years, said in the news release that other employees were worried about COVID safety policies and wanted more transparency around wages.

“Every time the COVID policies change, I don’t know about it until I clock in,” Williams said. “Also, some people get raises multiple times a year, while others who work just as hard get neither recognized nor rewarded. I’m not organizing a union because I don’t like my job; I’m doing it because I want to make things better.”

At the start of the pandemic, the three Bodo’s locations in the area shut down their dining rooms, switching to either drive-through or take-out only. In-store service resumed last summer.

Last week, the University Avenue location was closed for several days because of a few COVID cases among staff, according to a social media post.

Smith said Bodo’s “has been doing the best we can in every way we can for the Charlottesville community” for more than 30 years.

“We’ve always been keenly aware that that’s a moving target. When people ask us how we get such great people, what we always tell them is that we try to make the stores great places to work, and that begins with giving the staff great people to work with,” Smith said. “We are proud of and grateful to each and every one of our employees and the community that supports us and them.”

If a majority of employees vote in favor of unionizing, they would be part of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which represents Charlottesville grocery workers at Kroger and Giant Food.

“The local campaign coincides with a wave of union elections across the country led by mostly young retail workers from Starbucks coffee shops and Amazon warehouses to smaller book stores and restaurants,” the union said in the release.

Last month, employees at five Starbucks stores in the Richmond area voted in favor of unionizing with Starbucks Workers United.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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