Two front-line employees will join PCC’s board of trustees, beating out two incumbents and adding store workers to the board for the first time in more than a decade.
Donna Rasmussen and Laurae McIntyre won seats on the board this week after an election process that drew controversy to the 68-year-old Seattle-based grocery co-op.
Rasmussen and McIntyre, who said they were concerned with the company’s rapid growth and increasingly corporate leadership, ran without endorsement from the existing board, meaning they needed to gather signatures from 2% of members to get on the ballot. As supporters gathered signatures, the union said the co-op called police and private security on signature gatherers at multiple store locations. PCC told The Seattle Times last month “we do not call the police on PCC staff members,” but said it was possible “that police were called if nonstaff were breaking solicitation rules.”
For seats on the board, PCC trustees recommended two incumbents, both retired REI executives, and Metier Brewing Company CEO Rodney Hines. Hines won a seat on the board, along with Rasmussen and McIntyre.
McIntyre, who has worked for PCC for nearly seven years and been a member for about 30 years, said Tuesday she was “excited and stunned” at the victory.
Without employees on the board, “we feel we didn’t have a voice,” she said.
It’s been 15 years since an employee was on the board, said PCC spokesperson Kristen Wood.
In a statement, PCC trustee Ben Klasky congratulated the new board members. “At PCC, democracy — listening and responding and empowering voices — is the bedrock of our success,” said Klasky, chair of the board’s Governance and Membership Committee.
Employees were concerned about the co-op’s growth, among other issues, McIntyre said.
Employees worry the company’s rapid expansion can create competition between nearby stores, McIntyre said. “We want every store we open to be very successful because it impacts us all the way through,” she said.
Earlier this year, PCC CEO Suzy Monford publicly opposed Seattle legislation requiring $4-per-hour hazard pay for grocery workers, saying the co-op had $1.7 million in net income in 2019 but spent $3 million on pandemic-related expenses in 2020.
The company and UFCW 21 are currently bargaining over a new contract. The new members’ terms on the board will last until 2024.
Staff reporter Paul Roberts contributed reporting.