Homegrown Mercer Island workers prepare to strike over safety concerns

Employees are battling symptoms of heat stress and say the company’s CEO has not addressed their concerns.

Employees of the Homegrown Mercer Island store voted on Aug. 17 to authorize a strike, although a formal date has not yet been set.

According to Mike Rodriguez of labor union Unite Here Local 8, the employees of Homegrown Mercer Island have been picketing due to symptoms of heat stress they have been experiencing in the business. Homegrown is a chain restaurant serving sandwiches, salads and bowls with a focus on sustainability.

“That’s really the prime issue motivating the strike — the safety issues they’ve been dealing with and the unresponsiveness of the management about it,” Rodriguez said.

The Reporter reached out to Homegrown, who declined to comment at this time.

Rodriguez said on Aug. 1, a nurse practitioner came out to the location to talk with employees about the symptoms of heat stress they’ve been experiencing, in addition to industrial hygienists who were on the site to advise the employees about their rights.

Ella, an employee at Homegrown Mercer Island, spoke out through a video on Twitter about her concerns on July 29.

“I frequently feel dizzy, I’m lightheaded, I feel nauseous, sometimes I get chills — I feel like I have a headache almost every single shift,” said Ella, who mentioned how some of her coworkers have vomited while at work due to temperatures frequently reaching over 80 degrees inside the establishment.

“I would like Homegrown to listen to us and fix the A/C for one, let us take longer water breaks, and give us more control over whether or not we close the store,” said Ella.

Rodriguez said the Homegrown Mercer Island store employees want air conditioning in their store and would like management to listen to them about the issues. He said Homegrown CEO Brad Gillis has not addressed the employees’ concerns.

“It’s been radio silence — we’re kind of shocked,” said Rodriguez. “Workers would love for Brad Gillis to come to the table and talk to them about the issues they’re experiencing.”

The worker’s strike is set to take place any day now, said Rodriguez.