Bargaining Update 1: Proposals Exchanged

October 8, 2019

Willy Street Co-op Bargaining Update: 10-8-2019

The Union and Management bargaining committees met yesterday to begin the process of bargaining for a first contract covering hourly workers at the Willy Street Co-op. It was a productive session. Both committees expressed their interest in bargaining in good faith to reach an equitable agreement. We discussed logistics related to bargaining (such as times, places, etc.), an interim grievance procedure that would provide a process for employees to challenge disciplinary action during the time before a contract is in effect, and an outstanding safety issue in the Kitchen.

The majority of the session was spent exchanging initial proposals covering the non-economic portions of our contract. Both sides will respond to each other’s proposals at the next bargaining session. Here are the proposals presented by the union:

Union Recognition

Establishes the union as the bargaining agent for issues concerning wages, hours and working conditions.


Allows employees to pay their union dues through payroll deduction

Union Activity

Establishes union stewards and their rights, reasonable time off for union representatives to perform their duties, allows the union staff representative access to the co-op to ensure contract enforcement, establishes our right to bulletin boards, allows a union steward to address new hires during orientation.

Grievance Procedure

Provides a clear timeline for the resolution of issues that arise between management and employees

Discipline and Discharge

All discipline must be for just cause. Employees will be informed of their right to union representation during discipline meetings. Discipline could not be held against an employee after 6 months.

Job Openings

Internal applicants have preference over external applicants. Job openings are filled by skill and ability. When skill and ability are relatively equal, the more senior employee would get the position.

Layoff and Recall

In the unlikely event of a layoff, the less senior employees would be let go before more senior employees.

No Discrimination

There shall be no discrimination. Both the union and management would work together to create a more diverse workforce.

Health and Safety

The Co-op shall be a healthy and safe place to work. A safety committee will be formed, comprised of equal parts union and management representatives. Necessary safety clothing and equipment will be provided. Employee names would not appear on name tags. Management would fix damaged equipment that poses a safety hazard.


Same as the current policy.


Evaluations would not be used for disciplinary purposes. Employees could have a steward present if desired. Employees would have the right to evaluate their managers.

Introductory Period

Same as the current policy

Leaves of Absence

Employees could request a leave up to 6 months. An employee’s pay rate and job (or a similar job) would be held for 90 days.

In addition, the union requested information to allow us to develop proposals on schedules, staffing and customer harassment.

Co-op management gave us proposals that also covered the grievance procedure and union recognition. In addition, they proposed:

Management Rights

Would allow management to run the business, determine products sold, determine the size of the workforce, establish work standards, schedule mandatory overtime, contract out work under certain circumstances and establish reasonable work rules, among other rights.

No Strike/No Lockout

Management agrees not to “lock out” employees during the term of the contract. The Union would not engage in a strike or work stoppage during the term of the agreement. Employees could be fired for engaging in an unauthorized strike, slowdown, work stoppage or picketing.  


Would allow management to provide wage increases, benefits or working conditions superior to those provided by the union contract. Would prevent the Co-op from signing a contract with another union or one that conflicts with the union contract.

Waiver and Entire Agreement

The parties would waive their legal right to bargain over issues not specifically contained in the union contract.

Bargaining is scheduled to continue on Tuesday, October 15. Please contact a member of the Union Negotiating committee if you have any questions, or email the UE staff at

Stewards: The First Line of Defense

In UE, stewards are the heart of the union and a well-oiled steward system is key to exercising our power as workers. Since winning our union election, workers throughout Willy Street Co-op have stepped up to become interim stewards (see list below). There can never be too many stewards doing the important work of keeping the membership informed, mobilized, and standing strong in defense of our rights. If you have questions or concerns about issues at work, want to know the latest, or need representation, contact an interim steward. If you are interested in getting trained as an interim steward, contact a current steward or reach out to a UE organizer (312-686-0096 or

Current interim stewards by location

OSK/CO: Kevin Sites, Mindy Dolnick, Heather Jahnke

North: Allie McDonald, A Jay Lenz, Stephen Zeitler, Korey Peterson, Patrick McCauley, Jon Clayshulte, Sara Andrews

West: David Droster, Lucio Guerrero, Thayer Reed, Bjorn Thorson

East: Francis Derousseau, Demi Brock-Montgomery, Nicholas O'Connor, Mourning Dove Wochos, Ian Stocking, Sam Annis, Angelica Engel, Max Graue-Landis, Ryan Heinze, Lizzie Kirch, Michael Martin, Serenity Voss

Committees under construction

There are many opportunities for getting involved in the life of our union. We are setting up a number of committees to help us negotiate our first contract from a position of strength and, beyond that, to create genuine links of solidarity between ourselves and others who are fighting for a better world. This will benefit us and the whole working class in the long-term. Stronger together!

The following are the committees that are now up and running or under construction (if you are interested in joining a committee, contact an interim steward or reach out to UE staff at 312-686-0096 or

Contract Support Committee: A large group of workers who will help make sure co-workers stay informed and mobilized during negotiations. Tasks will include distributing newsletters and flyers, inviting co-workers to meetings, and getting urgent announcements from the bargaining committee out to the rank and file. Join the committee and help win a solid contract!

Willy Street Co-op Member-Owners Solidarity Committee: Many owners have reached out to ask how they can help us with our efforts, including owners who let their membership at the Co-op lapse after management's anti-union campaign in 2014/2015 and have now rejoined the Co-op. Through this committee, we will help owners organize themselves and coordinate activities with us so we can work together to make sure the Co-op lives up to its progressive image.

Communications Committee: In a rank-and-file union like UE, we aim to keep the membership fully informed. Members of this committee will establish and run the local's newsletter, social media accounts, e-mail listserv, radio show, etc. and will talk to media outlets interested in reporting on Willy Street Co-op as the need arises.

Community/Labor Solidarity Committee: As union members, our struggle is about more than just fighting to make our individual workplaces better. It's also about uniting with other workers to help the whole working class rise up. This committee will have the back of other workers and union members engaged in fights for justice and play an integral role on the side of the working class in wider community, national, and international affairs.  

Culture and Political Education Committee: As Fred Hampton once said, "Without education, people will accept anything." Help raise critical consciousness that will help workers see through the schemes of the powers that be by organizing lectures and film screenings, hosting speakers, producing and staging theater and music productions, building a labor history library, and much more.

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, October 9th at 6:30 p.m. at the Social Justice Center (1202 Williamson St.): Willy Street Co-op Member-Owners Solidarity Committee meeting. All Local 1186 members and supportive owners are welcome to attend.

Wednesday, Oct. 30th at 7 p.m. at Harmony Bar & Grill (2201 Atwood Ave.): Madison Democratic Socialists of America-organized public event on the Willy Street Co-op organizing campaign. This will be a good opportunity to build further public support for ourselves as we bargain our first union contract. It will also help in letting it be known to other workers in Madison that UE is here to help them organize their workplaces. This event is open to all. Invite everyone you know!