This Trader Joe's Location May Soon Be The First To Unionize

The stresses, and health hazards created in the service and retail industries that were created by the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked the birth of a new modern labor movement, according to The New York Times. Workers at REI, Starbucks, and Amazon locations have slowly, but surely, begun to form labor unions in the pandemic's wake, per The Guardian. Now, the first Trader Joe's location to express interest in unionizing may be ready to vote on the matter.

According to The New York Times, Trader Joes says they welcome their employees, or as they call them "crew members", rights to form a union.

"We have always said we welcome a fair vote and are prepared to hold a vote if more than 30% of the crew wants one. We are not interested in delaying the process in any way," a company spokeswoman, Nakia Rohde, told The New York Times.

However, when Trader Joe's employees first expressed interest in forming unions in 2020, the grocery chain showed opposition to the idea (via The New York Times). Amazon has also been accused of disrupting pro-union efforts in its fulfillment center, in another article in The New York Times. The popular coffee shop chain, Starbucks, also faces accusations of discrimination against pro-union employees, and even finds itself facing a lawsuit from the National Labor Relations Board related to these activities, according to NPR.

Trader Joe's employees unite

The Trader Joe's in Hadley, Massachusetts is expected to be the first location to hold a union election after filing an action to do so with the National Labor Relations Board as The New York Times reports. Union organizer Maeg Yosef says that nearly two-thirds of the store's almost 100 employees have expressed support in forming the union (via WBUR).

These crew members say that they want a union so they can have more of a say in decisions regarding their work environment. They specifically cited waning benefits, and COVID-19 precautions as their primary motivations (via The New York Times). They claim that after taking several precautions in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company relaxed the precautions quite quickly, as well as pulled back on the bonus wages (via The New York Times). WBUR also reports that Yosef alleges the company has cut retirement contributions over the years. Other employees also cited Trader Joe's decision to raise the minimum number of hours for part-time employees to receive health insurance through the company as a major issue (via The New York Times).

The Hadley store employees are organizing under the name Trader Joe's United, and would operate as an independent union. It's hard to say whether this will be the last Trader Joe's location to form a union. The grocery store chain has more than 50,000 employees at approximately 500 locations nationwide (via The New York Times).