DMV farmers market staff are first in the country to secure a collective bargaining agreement

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 12, 2024) – Today, the staff of FRESHFARM farmers markets voted in favor of ratifying their first union contract, making them the first farmers market workers in the country to secure a collective bargaining agreement.

“We came together as a collective to improve our working conditions and create good jobs at FRESHFARM,” said Yuval Lev, who has been a FRESHFARM market operator for three years and served on the union’s bargaining committee. “We’re proud to codify these hard-fought gains in this historic contract and continue doing the work we love to serve the community. A big thank you goes out to everyone who has supported us – our fellow workers, farmers and vendors, and community members. We appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you at our unionized farmers markets!”

Following the contract ratification, FRESHFARM Executive Director Hugo Mogollon issued the following statement:

“FRESHFARM is very pleased that its unionized farmers market employees voted to ratify the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between FRESHFARM, UFCW Local 400, and the FRESHFARM employee bargaining committee.

“This landmark agreement underscores the strength and dedication of the team operating our extensive network of farmers markets in the Washington, DC Metro Area. The agreement formalizes the values and practices that have been foundational to FRESHFARM since our inception, reaffirming our commitment to a just and sustainable food future.

“FRESHFARM sets a precedent as the first food system nonprofit in the United States to have a unionized farmers market staff, achieving a ratified union contract in under nine months. We are proud of this collective effort and look forward to continuing to impact our regional food economy, creating jobs and providing food access, guided by our shared values and the strength of our united team.”

The first-of-its-kind contract includes:

  • Higher wages, including for those who speak a second language, along with guaranteed annual raises
  • Vacation time for seasonal employees across the organization for the first time ever
  • Improved workplace conditions and safety standards, including a labor-management committee to address ongoing concerns
  • Grievance and arbitration procedures to guarantee just discipline

The farmers market operators unionized last year with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 union and negotiations on the first contract began shortly after. The three-year contract covers approximately 25 employees responsible for staffing and operating nearly 30 local farmers markets in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

FRESHFARM’s union effort was followed shortly after by farmers market workers in New York City, who unionized with the RWDSU/UFCW last Spring and are still in negotiations over their first collective bargaining agreement.

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United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.