Employees at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Massachusetts on Thursday became the latest workers at a major company to approve a labor union.
The store in Hadley, about 80 miles west of Boston, is the first Trader Joe’s with an employees union, although workers at two other company locations have initiated unionization efforts.
The union vote passed 45-31.
Organizers at the store launched the effort in May in an open letter to company CEO Dan Bane citing concerns about pay, benefits and safety. About 80 non-supervisory employees were eligible to vote, including what the company calls crew members and merchants, who are customer service specialists.
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Now that the union has been approved, the next step is putting together a negotiating committee to hammer out a contract with the California-based company, which has about 550 stores nationwide, union organizer and 18-year Trader Joe’s employee Maeg Yosef said.
The Hadley union, called Trader Joe’s United, is independent, and not affiliated with a larger existing union, although organizers have received administrative and legal help from established unions, Yosef said.
Workers from at least two other Trader Joe’s locations have initiated unionization efforts. Employees at a Minneapolis location have a union vote scheduled for Aug. 11 and 12, while the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 on Tuesday filed a union election petition with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of crew members at a Boulder, Colorado store.
The Trader Joe’s workers are part of a nationwide wave of employees at major companies who have or are attempting to unionize in an effort to secure a bigger say in their work conditions and compensation.
Workers at multiple Starbucks coffee shop locations across the country, as well as employees at Amazon, Apple and REI are among those who have joined unions in the past year.
Trader Joe’s management has engaged in what Yosef called “classic union-busting” tactics, including hiring a law firm specializing in fighting unionization to try and talk employees out of approving a union.
California-based Trader Joe’s, which has about 550 stores nationwide, also just announced an enhanced benefits package that includes more paid time off and better pay for some employees, which she said was an effort to head off unionization.
Trader Joe’s has generous pay and benefits by retail industry standards, a company spokesperson said this week.
“Trader Joe’s is a great place to work and our compensation, benefits, flexibility, and working conditions are among the best when compared to any retailer,” Nakia Rohde said in an email. “We welcome a fair vote by our crew members.”