Workers at the MOM’s Organic Market in Timonium have voted to become the second location in the Baltimore area to unionize in recent months, part of a growing trend nationwide as workers seek higher wages and better protections amid a historic labor shortage and continuing strain from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vote comes months after workers at the company’s location in Hampden voted to join the Teamsters, and it coincides with an announcement by workers at the store’s College Park location that they plan to organize with United Food & Commercial Workers.
The vote Thursday in Baltimore County was 42 yeses and three noes, according to organizer Moe Jackson, vice president of Teamsters Local 570. The group will now represent staff at the Timonium location in addition to the store’s Rotunda location.
After the vote in Hampden to unionize in August, “We wanted to be the next ones,” said Joe Mowell, a MOM’s generalist who has worked at the Timonium store for nearly five years.
Staff from the MOM’s in Hampden were instrumental in organizing workers in Timonium. They “did kind of all the groundwork,” Mowell said, in terms of connecting with the Teamsters. “We really just followed their playbook.”
For the past two months, Mowell said he and his union organizing co-workers tried to keep the project under wraps to the public while management sent in representatives to take the temperature of the store workers.
“It’s an oppressive work environment,” he said, noting that MOM’s staff are all “at-will” employees, meaning they can be fired for any reason.
Moving forward with the Teamsters, Mowell said that staff hope they will be able to make more money, get regular raises and be protected from being fired without cause. “With a union contract we would have protection built in,” he said.
While on the campaign trail for reelection, Baltimore County Executive Johnny “O” Olszewski, Jr. met with the workers in person and on zoom. He said in a statement that he stands with workers “who are organizing for higher pay, stronger benefits, and a fairer workplace.”
Reached for comment, a spokeswoman for the organic grocery chain said in a statement: “We love MOM’s Team Members. While it seems to be a trend to form unions recently, we believe and stand by our extraordinary benefits.” She provided a list of employee benefits including a $15 minimum wage and a 30% store discount.
Headquartered in Rockville, MOM’s has 10 stores in Maryland, including locations in White Marsh, Jessup and Bowie.
Employees of Apple at Towson Town Center, workers at the Walters Art Museum and employees at a Starbucks location in Baltimore have all voted to unionize in recent months amid a growing push in Baltimore and nationwide.