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Workers at Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts Vote to Unionize

California-based retailer responds to formation of independent group
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Trader Joe’s Offers More Pandemic Pay
Crew members at a Trader Joe's store in Hadley, Mass., have voted to form an independent union.

In a first for that retailer, workers at a Massachusetts Trader Joe’s are set to form a union. By a 45-31 vote on July 28, employees at a location in the town of Hadley, about 80 miles west of Boston, okayed  a move to launch the independent group Trader Joe’s United.

The team members took action based on concerns about their safety, wages and benefits, particularly their retirement plans that were the target of corporate cuts. The fledgling union released a statement, declaring, “The victory is historic, but not a surprise. Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union and, despite the company’s best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered,”

Trader Joe’s United is limited to the Hadley Trader Joe’s and is not affiliated with a larger union, but the effects of the organized labor move and its vote reverberated through the organization. Trader Joe’s, which has until Aug. 4 to file an objection, issued a news release pointing out that it provides its crew members around the country with a package of pay, benefits and working conditions that is among the best in the grocery industry.

In that release, Trader Joe’s underscored its commitment to its team members and its willingness to communicate. “We are prepared to immediately begin discussions with union representatives for the employees at this store to negotiate a contract. We are willing to use any current union contract for a multi-state grocery company with stores in the area, selected by the union representatives, as a template to negotiate a new structure for the employees in this store; including pay, retirement, healthcare and working conditions such as scheduling an job flexibility.”

Although this was the first organized group to come out of workers’ joint efforts, Trader Joe’s employees at locations in Minneapolis, Minn., and Boulder, Colo., have also started discussions and taken first steps to unionize, according to media reports in those areas.

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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