UPDATED: Co-op strike ends, Ozark Natural Foods reopened

Staff photo

Update, 3:30 p.m.. June 14: We received a statement Thursday afternoon from ONF staff concerning the strike. Read it below.

Update, 12 p.m. June 12: We spoke with ONF marketing director Alexa McGriff this afternoon. Her comments were added below.

The employee strike at Ozark Natural Foods has ended and the co-op is open for business, according to a status update on the ONF Facebook page.

“We are now open for business again,” the statement read. “If you’re interested in hearing why, feel free to ask any employees at the store.”

A few comments later, the admin of the page had this to say: “We simply decided that we were not fulfilling our mission of serving the community by keeping the doors closed,” read the statement. “The issues at hand are still there, but the Board has taken over working on them and has promised to work to fix these issues and make the Co-op the best place it can be.”

ONF officials said on Monday that 60 out of 63 staff members who attended a special meeting held Sunday night voted to conduct a sit-down strike until co-op board members Linda Ralston and Sue Graham resigned from their positions.

The move was a reaction to several ongoing issues between employees and members of the board of directors, including frustration over the board’s recent firing of longtime employee and general manager, Alysen Land.

Marketing director Alexa McGriff said that a Monday night meeting with board president Joshua Youngblood led to the decision to end the strike.

According to McGriff, Youngblood promised to represent the staff’s position to the board, and to help establish a legal vote on the fate of Ralston and Graham’s positions.

“Some employees are still skeptical,” McGriff said. “But the majority of the employees in attendance last night voted to return to work so that we could get back to serving this community, and find a way to achieve these goals in a legal manner, without potentially putting our jobs in jeopardy.”

Statement of Apology from ONF Staff

On Thursday at 3:30 p.m., we received the following statement from ONF staff.

Owners and shoppers of Ozark Natural Foods,
As many of you know, the Co-op was closed on Monday. The staff decided to put down their vests and stand outside to speak with owners about what they felt were very serious issues. The staff did this with the best intentions – they felt that the ownerships voices were being ignored by the Board of Directors, and they wanted to take a stand that was strong enough to get the attention of the Board, owners, and community at large. That feat was accomplished, but at great risk.
While many owners and shoppers have expressed support and stood behind the decision the staff made, we are aware that we also upset many owners and shoppers. For that, we truly apologize. It was not our intention to upset or inconvenience anyone. The staff honestly felt that we were doing a service to the owners by standing up for them. We apologize to anyone who was upset or angry.
If you were displeased with this situation, we hope that you will give the Co-op another chance and find it in your heart to forgive us. We had the best of intentions. Now, our hope is for us to have the ability to move forward, as staff, management and Board, to work together for the betterment of this Co-op. Please join us in that effort and give us a chance to work together.

Thank you,
Staff of Ozark Natural Foods