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Employees at the nonprofit FreshFarm Markets in the Washington area have voted to unionize.

The 25 workers at the 28 farmers markets operating throughout the region voted Wednesday to join United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400. The employees staff and operate the FreshFarm Markets organization, while the booths themselves are run by individual vendors. There are 17 markets in the District, one in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the rest in Virginia: five in Arlington, two in Fairfax, and one each in Oakton, Reston and Springfield.

Seasonal swings had workers seeking greater stability and better pay, which spurred the drive to join a union. The workers’ organizing committee said the vote will allow them to join together to address working conditions, pay and benefits.

“It’s almost impossible to have a salaried job and also run three markets where two of them are on the weekdays and then one is on the weekend,” Ariana MacMartin, one of the organizers of the new union, told DCist.

The network of farmers’ markets is the first unionized by UFCW Local 400.

The vote was 15-2 in favor of unionization, according to the Washington Business Journal. The ballots, authorized in December and distributed Jan. 18, were tallied by the National Labor Relations Board.

FreshFarm management says it supports the unionization push.

“FreshFarm is pleased to announce that our farmers’ market staff have voted to unionize. … FreshFarm management is enthusiastic about working with a collective bargaining unit committed to our mission and shared values,” the organization said in a statement.


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