Trader Joe’s Employees Mark Unionization Win in California

Push to join independent union at location in New York City defeated
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Trader Joe's employees in Oakland, Calif., voted in favor of joining a union last week.

Associates at a Trader Joe’s store in Oakland, Calif., voted last week to unionize, making it the fourth location in the United States to do so. The vote was 73-53 in favor of the move to be represented by independent union Trader Joe’s United.

Meanwhile, a union push in New York City was unsuccessful. Workers at the Essex Crossing Trader Joe’s store in Manhattan voted 76-76 in their respective election, which, by National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules, is a defeat since it does not cross the 50% threshold needed.

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The Essex Crossing Organizing Committee released a statement via Trader Joe’s United on Twitter, saying: “The fight to unionize a NYC Trader Joe’s continues. From the Upper West Side store almost 10 years ago, to the Union Square wine shop that corporate closed just days before workers filed for an election, to the Williamsburg store and now Essex Crossing – Trader Joe’s workers have been trying to unionize here for a long time.”

“The company’s massive NYC stores are a challenge and corporate union-busting is a beast, but we will not stop fighting for each other and for the working conditions we deserve,” the statement continued.

At the end of January, Trader Joe’s employees at a store in Louisville, Ky., voted 48-36 in favor of joining the Trader Joe’s United union. The grocer, however, has since challenged that decision, claiming union representatives used fear and coercion to gain a favorable outcome.

According to the grocer’s filing with the NLRB, union representatives “unlawfully interfered with the conduct of the election by repeatedly approaching and cornering crew members while they were working and while the polls were open, to intimidate crew members into voting for the union."

Trader Joe’s United rejected the grocer’s claims in a statement. The retailer requested in its filing that the results of the union election be “set aside,” and unionization efforts have remained in limbo since.

Workers at a Hadley, Mass., Trader Joe’s voted 45-31 last July to form a union and launched Trader Joe’s United. Employees at a Trader Joe’s location in Minneapolis also voted to join Trader Joe’s United last year by a vote of 55-5.

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100,Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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