Following a 48-36 vote by team members at a Louisville Trader Joe’s store to unionize, the company is challenging the decision, claiming union representatives used fear and coercion to gain a favorable outcome.
According to the grocer’s filing with the National Labor Relations Board, 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.”
The filing goes on to claim that members of Trader Joe’s United, the independent union of Trader Joe’s workers, “through its agents, officers, and representatives, unlawfully cornered and coerced and intimidated eligible voters by approaching crew members who were believed to support Trader Joe’s while they were working and directing those crew members not to vote.”
Trader Joe’s had joined union representatives at the bargaining table earlier this week following the Jan. 26 vote, but talks have since stalled. Trader Joe’s United laid out some of the discussion points on its Twitter page, with wages, benefits and paid time off being the main issues put forth.
According to a tweet from Trader Joe’s United, “We did have movement, and came to an agreement with our employer on a few issues such as jury duty leave.” However, the union claims the grocer did not believe the agreements should be applied to all unionized stores.
Workers at a Hadley, Mass., Trader Joe’s voted 45-31 last July to form a union and launch 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.
Trader Joe’s United rejected the grocer’s claims in a statement.
“It’s interesting that the company is claiming that we tainted the ‘laboratory’ conditions of the election when we have several unfair labor practice charges on file against Trader Joe’s for coercion, intimidation, threats, and surveillance in the weeks leading up to our election,” said Connor Hovey, an employee and organizer at the Louisville location. “We also think it’s interesting that a company with such a progressive image is going to such lengths to delay the results of a fair, democratic process.”
Trader Joe’s requested in its filing that the results of the union election be “set aside,” and unionization efforts will remain tabled until the National Labor Relations Board holds a hearing on the matter.
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.