By Theo Rose

For The Diamondback

College Park and University of Maryland community members attended a lecture Tuesday given by Scott Nash, the CEO and founder of MOM’s Organic Market.

The event, which took place at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, was part of a series hosted by the University of Maryland’s information studies college in collaboration with this university’s business school and Do Good Institute.

During the lecture, Nash spoke about his journey to become the grocery chain’s CEO. But in a Q&A session after the presentation, several College Park MOM’s union members called out the company’s treatment of union employees after  College Park employees’ unionization efforts in 2022.

MOM’s has 23 stores on the East Coast, including a College Park location, with another expected to open later this year. The company employs more than 1,000 people, according to its website.

In 1987, Nash founded MOM’s at age 22 as a delivery service called Organic Foods Express, he said. The business was headquartered in Nash’s garage as he began the operation with $100 and a Chevy Malibu, according to the MOM’s website. Nash had a set schedule for shipping and delivering groceries from Monday through Thursday and served walk-in customers from Friday through Sunday, the website said.

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While Nash grew his brand over the years, he needed more resources to continue expanding his business, he said.

“I wasn’t really being a businessman,” Nash said. “I knew I needed help.”

After joining several entrepreneurial organizations, including the Young Presidents’ Organization— a leadership organization for chief executives— Nash said he began to understand business acumen and the importance of customer experience.

Jhanavi Rughoonundun, an information systems graduate student, said she attended the event because her family often buys produce from MOM’s.

“We get our milk and a lot of produce from there. I saw that someone from their corporation was coming to speak and I thought it’d be interesting,” Rughoomundun said.

College Park MOM’s employees voted to unionize in December 2022, The Diamondback previously reported, and is currently represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400.

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During the Q&A period, several College Park MOM’s employees, including Kaitlyn Brooks, accused the company of unfair labor practices amid contract negotiations.

“Essentially, we are just trying to spread awareness of what’s going on within our bargaining,” Brooks told The Diamondback. “We thought it would be a great opportunity to really put the pressure on [Nash] to answer our questions face to face.”

Since unionizing in 2022, MOM’s employees in College Park have been working without a contract, The Baltimore Business Journal reported. As a result, MOM’s workers filed multiple charges for unfair labor practice charges and bargaining in bad faith, according to The Baltimore Business Journal.

In October 2023, College Park MOM’s workers protested the company’s unfair treatment of union employees and accused the company of “union busting,” The Diamondback previously reported.

In response to a College Park union member asking Nash about union busting and retaliation at other MOM’s stores during the Q&A, he said the claims of union busting were “a lie.”

Moving forward, Brooks said the union is searching for a reasonable contract focused on providing livable wages and sick leave. The current starting salary is $16, Brooks added, which is insufficient.

“Luckily I’m able to support myself, but my coworkers here can’t under those circumstances,” Brooks said.