December 2019 Update from General Manager Kari Bradley
Greetings from the Co-op! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to enjoying the next round of holidays with family and friends and lots of good food. A couple updates on co-op-related topics:
After nearly six months of bargaining, the Co-op and our employees’ Union, the United Electrical Workers and Local 255, reached agreement this month on a new labor contract. The agreement has now been ratified by both sides and will go into effect as soon as we sign it, hopefully early next week. Our three-year deal increases union employee wages by an average of 3.4% each year and preserves our first-rate benefit package including medical, dental and vision insurance, with all premiums fully paid for single, full-time employees. I would like to thank Co-op employees and the Union for collaborating with the Co-op in providing an excellent workplace for our 170+ employees.
In case you have not heard, the past year has been particularly challenging for Vermont farmers. Many of our farmers are already facing serious headwinds for their small businesses in terms of prices, expenses, labor shortages and ownership succession; the challenges and some possible solutions are summarized in this excellent report from UVM Extension and the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. On top of this, fall weather events, including the storm on October 31, caused flooding and wind damage to many local farms. As a co-op that does business with nearly 500 VT businesses and achieves almost 40% of our sales from local products, we want to help.
NOFA Vermont’s Farmer Emergency Fund supports organic and NOFA member farmers in need. Please consider supporting our local farms by making a contribution directly or participating in the Co-op’s January 4 fundraising event. On that day, we will donate 10% of our produce sales to the Emergency Fund and collect donations at the registers through our Give Change program, with the Co-op matching the amount raised.
Thank you for supporting our local farms. Working together, we can maintain and advance the sustainable local food systems that contribute so much to life in Vermont.