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Trader Joe’s Workers in Chicago to Vote on Union

Action is the latest in a string of organized labor moves
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
TJ worker
Crew members at a Trader Joe's on Chicago's north side have filed an action to vote on forming a union.

Workers in Chicago are the latest Trader Joe’s employees to start an organizing process. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, crew members at a Trader Joe’s in the city’s North Center neighborhood are set to hold a vote on forming a union, motivated by a desire for higher wages, more paid time off and protected benefits. 

One associate who is part of the organizing effort told the newspaper that forming a union will help workers in a tough economic climate. “I shouldn’t have to be living paycheck to paycheck still,” said Taylor Powers. “And that’s the reality for me, as it is for a lot of other people that are working there.”

If the vote among 140 employees passes, this will be the first Trader Joe’s in Chicago to go union. Staffers at four other stores in the United States have approved unions, including locations in Oakland, Calif., Louisville, Ky., Minneapolis, and the first to make that move, in Hadley, Mass.

Unions have become somewhat of a thorn in the side of the retailer. Last month, the switchover to a grab-and-go format from a wine shop in the Union Square neighborhood of New York City sparked a backlash from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). That group argued that the shuttering of the wine shop was linked to workers’ efforts to organize at that location.

In January, a federal judge ruled against Trader Joe’s in its lawsuit to stop a Trader Joe’s United union from using a logo similar to its corporate logo. Meanwhile, in February, Trader Joe’s defended itself during a hearing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), contending that the agency is improperly going after the chain for what it deems unfair labor practices. According to a report in Bloomberg News, the grocer declared that that the “structure and organization” of the NLRB is unconstitutional.

Progressive Grocer reached out to Trader Joe’s for a response to the filing for a union vote in Chicago, but did not hear back as of press time.

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century.

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