TROY, NY – The staff of Capital Roots, a non-profit organization that works to provide and expand access to fresh, healthy foods and green spaces across the Capital District, won voluntary recognition of their union. After a brief presentation from two members of the union organizing committee, the Board of Directors voted to affirm the will of staff in a special meeting last week.
Lena Faustel, Capital Roots’ Squash Hunger Coordinator, celebrated the decision, saying, “I believe the board of directors made the right decision in voluntarily recognizing our union, meaning we can immediately begin the bargaining process. The values of our union align with the values exemplified through our programs and the services we provide to our constituents. I believe this will be a really positive move forward for staff and Capital Roots as an organization.”
Through its various programs such as its Veggie Mobile, Healthy Stores, and Farm-to-School, Capital Roots and its local farm partners provide quality and locally-grown produce to schools, bodegas and convenience stores, and neighborhoods underserved by grocery stores. The organization also manages and maintains 55 community gardens across the capital region. Through contract negotiations, the staff who perform this critical work across the Capital District hope to improve wages, reduce high staff turnover, and affect other improvements to make their jobs more sustainable.
Cody Bloomfield, Capital Roots’ Volunteer Coordinator, acknowledged the community effort, saying, “We received an enormous outpouring of public support for this unionization effort, from local legislators to the organization’s own community gardeners. The Board, by agreeing to move forward with this process willingly, is acknowledging the power of community organizing.”
The group of approximately 20 program managers, coordinators and assistants join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 200United, which represents over 14,000 workers across New York and Vermont, including roughly 3,000 human service workers in the Capital District and Hudson Valley. Just last week, Joseph’s House and Shelter workers filed with the NLRB for a union election after Executive Director Kevin O’Connor declined recognition of their union with SEIU Local 200United.