New Seasons, the Portland-based small-format grocer that emphasizes regional, organic food, hasn’t even opened its first store in the Seattle area and already there’s opposition.

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New Seasons, the Portland-based small-format grocer that emphasizes regional, organic food, hasn’t even opened its first store in the Seattle area and already there’s opposition.

In a recent letter to the Sound Transit board, several labor and advocacy groups opposed the possible selection of New Seasons as anchor tenant for a development at the Capitol Hill light rail station on Broadway.

The groups criticized New Seasons’ working conditions, citing news articles about the grocer’s “anti-union climate” and health and safety violations records.

The groups said that “access to jobs for low-income communities and opportunities for locally-serving businesses” should be high priorities for the development project, and proposed local grocers Metropolitan Market, PCC and Central Co-op as examples of stores they favored.

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Gerding Edlen, the Portland company developing the mixed-use retail and housing project, said Thursday “we do not have a deal with any particular anchor tenant at this time.”

Capitol Hill Blog, which first wrote about the issue, said a Gerding Edlen partner confirmed it was talking with New Seasons but that no final decision has been made.

A New Seasons spokeswoman said Thursday the grocer is “interested in that site. It would be a potentially great fit. But there is no news to announce at this time.”

CEO Wendy Collie added that “we always put our people first and are proud to offer a progressive, comprehensive benefits package.”

Sound Transit said it “does not involve itself in tenant selection by the developer. … The Sound Transit Board chose the developer based on the strength of their proposal, which includes more than 400 new apartments with a significant portion of those being in the affordable housing category.”

New Seasons, which has 18 stores in the Portland-Vancouver area, plans to open its first Puget Sound-area store on Mercer Island this fall. It’s planning to open a Ballard store in fall 2017.

Its workers are not unionized.

Grocery stores in this area include both union and non-union operations. Among the unionized grocers are Kroger (owner of Fred Meyer and QFC), Albertsons, Safeway, Haggen, PCC, Central Co-op and Metropolitan Market. Among those that are not are Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, WinCo, Target and Walmart.

It’s not the first time a non-union grocery has run into attempts to block its development in labor-friendly Seattle.

In 2013, then-Mayor Mike McGinn sided with the grocery workers’ union and ordered the Seattle Department of Transportation to recommend denial of a key alley vacation needed for a Whole Foods development in West Seattle to move ahead.

Then-State Sen. Ed. Murray, now Seattle mayor, criticized McGinn’s move, saying the mayor lacked the authority to intervene in the project.

The City Council eventually voted to approve the mixed-use project that includes the Whole Foods store and construction started in late 2014. The West Seattle Herald reports the project will be complete in 2017.