Workers at Coven Market join SEIU Local 2; Business owner proud of employees and looks forward to productive relationship

HAMILTON, Ontario, May 15, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a world of Loblaws, be more like Coven Market, say the employees of the small vegan bakery, deli and grocery store in Hamilton, Ontario.

“We're really lucky to have a place where people can come and shop for vegan goods that's not owned by some huge greedy corporation,” said Sam Webster, one of the store employees and a member of the Union bargaining committee. “When you come and shop here, you're supporting a small local business.”

Webster is referring to Coven Market at 949 Main Street East, near Gage Park.

After building a strong majority in support of forming a Union, Webster and her co-workers filed an application for Trade Union Certification at the Labour Relations Board on April 9, 2024. The employer voluntarily recognized their Union the following day. A month later, the workers had ratified their first Collective Agreement.

“I have always been a staunch supporter of Unions,” said KW Campol, one of Coven’s owners. “We have had a sign behind our register since day one that reads ‘the weight of the world rests on the back of its workers,’ and we believe that wholeheartedly.”

“This is definitely a fantastic place to work,” added Webster, “but we felt like there were a few tweaks that we could make that would make it even better. A big part of it is just having a voice, and we're very lucky that we have employers that are very understanding and pro union.”

In a time when families struggle to put food on the table, large Canadian grocers are making record profits. They also fight their workers tooth and nail when they look to make improvements. With soaring prices, largely due to the large grocery chains’ “greedflation,” community food stores like Coven offer an important and feel-good alternative.

“For all of the cries of attrition and turnover in workplaces these days, the workers at Coven know that they now share an agreement to making the business as successful as possible and that they share in that success through future rounds of bargaining,” said Anthony Marco, president of the Hamilton and District Labour Council.

The two-year deal includes wages increases to $20 per hour, additional paid sick days, improved medical benefits, paid bereavement leave, and more.

“We have always encouraged our staff to be on the lookout for their best interests and their rights and when they decided to unionize, we couldn't have been prouder,” said Campol. “Coven, and all businesses, can thrive with the support of a strong, unionized work force.”

“Any small to mid-range business who wonders only about what the problems of unions might be for them, might consider the continuity and security in workers who feel valued,” said Marco. “Also, on behalf of the 50,000 affiliated, union members of the Hamilton and District Labour Council, when we commit to "Buy Union" we look to employers like Coven as best options for our future business in Hamilton.”

SEIU Local 2 represents 20,000 workers in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Alberta. We are proud members of the largest, fastest growing, and most dynamic union in North America.

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