The employees of City Feed and Supply have voted in support of forming a union. Employees voted 20-10 in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election on June 14 to be an affiliate of Boston Industrial Workers of the World (Boston IWW). "We'd like to thank every one of our coworkers, our community for showing up for us, and our worker-organizers and external organizers from the IWW," said a City Feed statement. "We're looking forward to beginning a collective bargaining process with City Feed management and continuing to build a democratic worker-led union, to better our conditions and reach a contract agreement that works for all of us. This is a clear path for better working conditions, a true voice at work, and dignity for all.
The owners of City Feed and Supply informed their employees that they will not be voluntarily recognizing their desire to unionize. Owners David Warner and Kristine Cortese provided a letter to City Feed employees on April 9 informing them of their decision. "We believe that we can accomplish more together, and work through our obstacles without a third party between us. We don't believe that joining a union is the only way forward for the workers of City Feed and Supply. A union will cost us all money, and demand a substantial amount of time; time that could be spent building back the business from the pandemic into a place where we can all work together and thrive," says the letter.
Employees of City Feed and Supply's two Jamaica Plain stores have filed a petition to form a union. "The workers of City Feed and Supply are organizing for the right to collectively bargain for equitable and living wages, healthcare and benefits, and a voice at work over issues of safety, harassment, COVID sick leave, and other working conditions that affect our physical, emotional, and financial well-being," says an ipetitions.com site encouraging people to support for the workers union movement. WGBH reported that employees want to join the Boston branch of the Industrial Workers of the World union, which represents about 9,000 workers across the country. City Feed employees are part of a movement across the region of employees of small businesses looking to unionize. WGBH reported that 30 percent of workers need to sign cards or a petition in support of a union for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election.
A community fridge was recently placed behind City Feed and Supply on Centre Street and people are welcome to take and provide food as they please. David Warner, president and co-founder of City Feed and Supply, said an employee brought the idea of a community fridge at the location to his attention. He reached out to chef Irene Li of Mei Mei to learn more about it, and decided to give it a try. "We thought that location would be the most convenient as well as out of the way as much as possible of cars and where we could get power to it," said Warner, in regards to the placement of the fridge. "We paid to have the electrical installed for it, but the volunteers have covered all of the other costs involved as well as make sure the area is monitored and maintained."
Restaurants are now allowed to have customers inside at a reduced capacity, and to help offset the loss of customers, outdoor seating has been expanded for many eateries. To help cover some of the costs for businesses due to the pandemic, JP Centre/South Main Streets is holding a fundraising campaign to pay for things such as outdoor seating. The campaign runs through July 22 and has a target goal of $40,000, and as of July 8 had raised $3,545. JP Centre/South Main Streets is also letting customers know that businesses are open by asking them to put an orange balloon outside of their location. Business owners David Doyle of a trio of restaurants Tres Gatos, Little Dipper, and Casa Verde, and David Warner of City Feed & Supply, recently partnered to purchase the required jersey barriers (water-filled) for outdoor seating areas.
A proposed deal would transfer City Feed and Supply's alcohol license to Equal Exchange, which would also purchase both locations of the popular neighborhood market. City Feed and Supply's owners Kristine Cortese and David Warner sent an email to its customers providing some details of the possible sale:
"Over the course of this year we have been in conversation with Equal Exchange, discussing the possibility of Equal Exchange purchasing City Feed and Supply. The deal is not yet complete but is progressing towards completion and we wanted to let you all know before you hear it elsewhere. We will start meeting with neighborhood groups to seek approval for transferring licensing, so the word will be getting out." City Feed appeared at Wednesday's Jamaica Plain Business and Professional Association meeting to discuss its request to transferring its beer and wine package store license at its business located at 672 Centre St. City Feed's store at 66 Boylston St.
Local company Cervone Deegan & Associates went from selling real estate to pies this past weekend at City Feed for a good cause. In total, $1,100 was raised for local Jamaica Plain nonprofit Community Servings. Thirty-six pies were sold, and several donations were provided to Community Servings' Pie In The Sky 27th Annual Thanksgiving Bake Sale. Every year restaurants, bakeries, caterers, and hotels donate thousands of pies that 500 volunteers such as Cervone, Deegan & Associates then sell to family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. The money goes to provide thousands of medically tailored, made-from-scratch meals for individuals and families who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves from Community Servings.
While Jamaica Plain prides itself on supporting independent businesses -- operating one is not as easy as just opening up shop in the neighborhood. "I would advise anyone looking to start an independent business in JP to start with a love of the neighborhood. If you love the neighborhood, it will love you back," said David Warner, who co-founded City Feed and Supply with Kristine Cortese, and opened their first store in 2000 on Boylston Street and their second store on Centre Street in 2008. "Secondly, I would advise them to ask for help in every direction it is available." That help can come from numerous local organizations and nonprofits, including Boston Main Streets, the City of Boston, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, JP Local First and JP Business and Professional Association (BAPA).
One of Jamaica Plain's more prominent and popular businesses has made it clear with a sign in their window -- everyone is welcome. The sign at City Feed and Supply on Centre Street features a hijab-wearing woman and proclaims "Everyone is Welcome Here" in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese. Twitter user Melissa Jean tweeted a photo of the sign on Nov. 18, adding "props to @cityfeednews for this welcoming sign." A City Feed and Supply employee told Jamaica Plain News that a woman came into the store on Friday and asked if she could post the sign. Management quickly and wholeheartedly agreed, and displayed the sign in the store's front window.
The City Feed and Supply on Boylston Street will be closed starting Aug. 15 due to needed building repairs, with the hope that the store will be ready to reopen in the fall. "It is our hope that the work will be completed as quickly as possible and we will be able to re-open this store in the fall," wrote Kristine Cortese and David Warner, owners of the market/café/deli, in an email newsletter. "We will be retaining all the folks who currently work at Boylston Street and moving them to our Centre Street location (aka Big Feed, C St)." Cortese and Warner founded City Feed and Supply 16 years ago with the notion that it "...was a neighborhood store that sold food you would actually want to eat every day, not just snacks and junk food."