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Lexington Co-op workers vote to unionize

The general manager of company says he is excited to partner with union to "make our great work place even better."

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Workers at the two Lexington Co-op locations in Buffalo have voted to form a union.

The Co-op operates grocery stores on Elmwood and Hertel avenues.

Less than three-fourths of the workers employed by the co-op voted, and of those the vote was 50-26 in favor of organizing.

"We are excited to partner with Workers United to make our great work place even greater," said the co-op's general manager, Tim Bartlett. "This was the choice of our staff. It was never our decision, and we wholeheartedly support the decision our staff has made."

Though eager to begin their contract negotiations, the workers who led the effort to organize also seemed to understand that with both sides rather new to this, it may take several months to hash out the language of a contract, and then ratify it.

"We're in the process of reaching out and collecting all of the workers thoughts to see what they would like to see prioritized at the negotiating table," said Philip Kneitlinger, who works at the Hertel Avenue location and was among the workers pushing for a union.

"Once we have a really great cross section of what everyone is interested in, we can start really putting together our priorities for when we sit down with management to talk about a contract."

Kneitlinger and others indicated some of the more important issues are expected to be wages, wage scales, minimum staffing numbers and safety in the workplace.

"The starting rate is $15 an hour right now, which is pretty comparable to to other employers n the area," said Maxwell Bollman, who works at the Elmwood Avenue location. "I would say a lot of us are looking to increase the starting wage."

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