The initial effort to unionize originated at the store's second location, which opened in Middleton in 2010. Frustrated with scheduling, pay and disciplinary issues, workers at Willy West reached out to UFCW Local 1473 over the summer for guidance on the logistics of forming a union. Willy West employee Leah Clark says interest in unionizing is strong at the west-side store.
"This is solidarity country here on the west side," says Clark. "From the beginning response has been positive."
However, support for a union at the co-op's namesake east-side store, located in the progressive Williamson-Marquette neighborhood, is split. Addie Greenwood, a Willy East employee and a supporter of the union effort, says it's been tense at work. Greenwood says there was "a lot of shaming and people all over Facebook lambasting their coworkers for being pro-union."
Fellow Willy East employee Wayde Lawler, who has been public in his opposition to unionization, says many workers feel they don't need union representation because the co-op is already a progressive employer.
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