Asheville Service Industry Starting To Unionize

From the Asheville Citizen-Times

Casey Campfield, owner of Crow & Quill, June 21, 2023

More service industry labor unions may be on the horizon in Asheville, following trends witnessed across the U.S.

Jacob Levinsohn, a bartender at The Crow & Quill, cites issues within the city and in individual businesses as reasons that more local workers are considering unionizing.

“It’s desperately needed, and I think we will see more of it – I hope we will see more of it,” Levinsohn said. “Asheville has – there’s so much tourism. There’s so much business and it attracts a lot of money and a lot of jobs, but a lot of them are very poor jobs. They don’t pay people well, they don’t treat people well, and they rely on burning through people. With the increase in the cost of living in Asheville, we need something for workers, and I think unions can provide a lot of that.”

In a unique case, The Crow & Quill’s owner, Casey Campfield, not only supported his staff unionizing but presented the idea to them.

“I encouraged the staff to consider filing their union paperwork,” Campfield said. “I thought it was important to reflect our ideas of a pro-union labor establishment and protect them in case something happened to me and there was new ownership. I wanted to make sure they had some safeguards in place.”

Campfield said he aimed to set an example for other business owners and encourage workers to consider the benefits of a union.

“It allows you to take control of your conditions, and that’s really worthwhile,” Levinsohn said.

[E]mployees of Green Sage Café’s Hendersonville Road location in South Asheville voiced their desire for a collective bargaining agreement but were met with opposition when their employer initially opposed their labor union efforts.

At Green Sage South, the local leader told the Citizen Times that the collective bargaining agreement was to address issues like fair scheduling, wage transparency and access to benefits and a human resources representative and accountant to assist with questions and concerns.

In February, Green Sage owner Randy Talley rejected the staff’s efforts to unionize with a letter denying recognition. However, the staff won with a 7-0 vote for union representation through the National Labor Relations Board, which was certified on April 7.

Asheville Food & Beverage United, an advocacy group, has supported local hospitality workforce causes from paid parking for downtown workers to rallying alongside Green Sage workers.

Jen Hampton, co-chair for Asheville Food and Beverage United, has been in communication with other local service workers interested in and meeting with their colleagues to discuss unionizing at their corresponding places of employment.

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