Submit Content

Union Kitchen employees in Ballston have officially unionized

Union Kitchen in Ballston (staff photo)

Union Kitchen employees, including those at the Ballston location, have officially won their election to form a union.

Yesterday (June 21), employees at five Union Kitchen locations announced that a majority voted in an election to unionize with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400. This includes employees at the Ballston retail shop and restaurant located at 4102 Wilson Blvd.

The final count was 20 votes in favor of unionizing and 11 votes against.

The vote comes about five months after employees first announced their intent to form a union. The vote took place back in March, with the election being conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). But results were delayed due, in part, to management challenging the eligibility of a number of ballots, as reported by DCist.

The workers cited pay cuts, lack of sick leave, and staffing shortages as the major reasons for organizing. Also, they’ve alleged that management has retaliated against workers for unionizing, an act that would be in violation of federal law. By unionizing, employees will now be able to negotiate as a unit.

The union’s main requests when they go to the negotiating table will be to start pay at $22 an hour and to increase staffing by 20% due to the stores being “severely understaffed,” union organizing committee member and former Ballston employee Mckenna Willis tells ARLnow.

In a press release, UFCW Local 400 called on Union Kitchen’s owner to come to the negotiating table.

We are pleased to announce that Union Kitchen is now unionized! After management spent the last few months attempting to postpone this result, all votes have finally been counted. We won our union.

We would like to thank all of our customers, elected officials, community allies, fellow union members and supporters everywhere who never stopped believing this day would come. We know we can count on you moving forward.

Now, we call on owner Cullen Gilchrist to respect the outcome of this election, cease his delay tactics, and finally sit down with us to negotiate a union contract.

ARLnow has reached out to Union Kitchen management and Gilchrist, but has yet to hear back as of publication.

Union Kitchen first began as an accelerator a decade ago, helping food startups by providing expertise. It has since grown into being a retail shop and restaurant. The Ballston location opened in August 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, selling a variety of coffees, convenience items as well as a takeout menu with sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and breakfast.

When ARLnow first spoke with Willis back in March, she was working at the Ballston location. She’s now a former employee, after making the decision to leave the about two weeks ago. It had become a “really difficult work environment” and was “taking a toll” on her, she says. Back in March, Willis accused management of cutting her hours after a meeting where she brought up her concerns.

“We’ve all been waiting so long,” she said of learning about the unionization vote. “When I got the text, I almost started crying. So many of us put hours and hours of work into this. For the workers that are there, it means that they have representation and the power to not be scared anymore.”

The effort follows a nationwide and local trend of employees deciding to unionize. Employees at a Starbucks in Merrifield voted to form a union in April. Late last year, employees at the bookstore Politics and Prose in D.C. also voted to unionize. Just last week, Apple store workers in Towson, Maryland became the first employees at the company to unionize.

In recent months, she says that a number of customers have approached her and co-workers at the Ballston location to express their support.

“We’ve had just overwhelming community support from Arlington,” she said. “So many people have just stopped in to say that they’ve heard about the union… that’s what brings us our strength.”

Recent Stories

Tour Country Club Hills to discover its lush herbage, mature trees, and the Victorian and frame houses of the area in Neighborhood Spotlight.

A soggy weekend is on tap after an otherwise pretty nice final week of September. Obviously this week’s big story was the devastation in Florida, the huge scale of which…

Share your input on the Arlington Forestry and Natural Resources Plan by October 3.

A proposed bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians between Crystal City and the Southwest Waterfront area of D.C. has received $20 million in federal funding to move forward. When complete, the…

(This Community Post was written by 9th Street Chamber Music and underwritten by Embracing Arlington Arts .)

9th Street Chamber Music is back in business for its second season! 9SCM is disrupting the stereotypes of classical music as stuffy, dry, and elite through dynamic yet accessible performances and its one-of-a-kind String Quartet Intensive for young musicians in the DC Metro area.

[9th Street Quartet](https://www.9thstreetchambermusic.com/9th-street- quartet)’s first concert is on Sunday, October 16 at 4:00 PM. The group will offer, for the first time, a ‘Playlist Shuffle’ themed concert featuring single movements of string quartet favorites. Tickets for this concert can be found here, and are $20 for adults and FREE for all students under 18.

Rehearsals began Monday, September 27 for the String Quartet Intensive, welcoming 32 new and returning members to the program. These talented musicians in grades 7 through 12 represent over fifteen area schools throughout Northern Virginia, DC and Maryland, and are an integral part of the growing 9SCM community. Their first performance will take place on Monday, November 28 at 7:30 PM.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Now you can have fun with your family and friends when deciding where to eat!

Just hop aboard The Lunch Train and set the destination for: breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or nightlife!

Features:
– No app necessary. Simply go to the website if you’d like!
– No account necessary
– Use your current location or a desired location
– Add restaurants you’re interested in, invite your friends, and play the game!

https://www.thelunchtrain.com/

Submit your own Community Post here.

Vini Franchetti Wine Dinner

Join us as we explore Vini Franchetti & their two sister vineyards Passopisciaro (Sicily) and Vini Franchetti (Tuscany) for our Sicily/Tuscany Wine Dinner!

Sunday, Oct 9 @ 6pm

Special Guest: This wine dinner we will be hosting the wine maker

Homebuying 101: Steps to Getting Pre-Approved

Are you ready to jump into homeownership or started considering it but don’t know where to start? Financial preparation is key when thinking about purchasing your first home and the first step to getting pre-approved. Join ACFCU for our Homebuying

×

Subscribe to our mailing list