Workers at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Massachusetts on Thursday became the latest workers at a major company to endorse a union.
The Hadley store, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) west of Boston, is the first Trader Joe’s with an employee union, although workers at two other company locations have launched organizing efforts .
The union vote, counted by National Labor Relations Board officers in front of management and employee witnesses, passed 45 to 31 with one draw. Eighty-one store employees – called crew members or shopkeepers in company jargon – were eligible to vote.
The union, Trader Joe’s United, said in a Twitter post “We won!”
“This victory is historic, but not a surprise,” the tweet said. “From the time we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew has enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company’s best efforts to bring us down, our majority has never wavered.”
The company has seven days to file a complaint. A company spokesperson did not say if there would be one. The company already offers one of the best wage, benefit and working condition packages in the grocery industry, the spokesperson said.
“We are ready to immediately enter into discussions with union representatives for the employees of this store to negotiate a contract,” said Nakia Rohde’s statement. “We are willing to use any current union contract for a multi-state grocery company with stores in the region, selected by union representatives, as a model to negotiate a new structure for employees at that store; including salary, pension, health care and working conditions such as hours and job flexibility.
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Store organizers kicked off the effort in May in an open letter to company CEO Dan Bane, citing concerns about wages, benefits and safety.
Now that the union has been approved, the next step is to form a negotiating committee to strike a deal with the California-based company, which has about 530 stores nationwide.
“We must meet this challenge head-on, together, and negotiate a contract that reflects the values Trader Joe’s has long claimed to embrace,” the union said in its tweet.
Trader Joe’s United is an independent union and is not affiliated with any larger existing union, although organizers have received administrative and legal assistance from established unions, said Maeg Yosef, an 18-year-old Trader Joe employee.
Workers at at least two other Trader Joe’s sites have launched organizing efforts. Employees at a Minneapolis site have a union vote scheduled for Aug. 11-12, while United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 filed an election petition on Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board in names of crew members at a store in Boulder, Colorado. .
Trader Joe’s workers are part of a nationwide wave of corporate employees who have joined or are trying to unionize in a bid to have more of a say in their working conditions and pay.
Workers at several Starbucks coffee shops across the country, as well as employees at Amazon, Apple and REI are among those who have joined unions in the past year.
In the first nine months of fiscal 2022, from October 1 to June 30, applications for union representation filed with the National Labor Relations Board increased by 58% compared to the first three quarters of the previous fiscal year, the agency said this month. .
Prior to the vote, Trader Joe’s management engaged in what Yosef called “classic union busting” tactics, including hiring an anti-union law firm to try to dissuade employees from endorsing a syndicate.