Trader Joe’s Workers in Massachusetts File to Form Union as Company Fights Back

In a move that could be monumental for service workers across the country, Trader Joe’s workers in western Massachusetts have filed to form a union weeks after Publicizing their unionization efforts.

Workers organizing under their union, Trader Joe’s United, in Hadley, Massachusetts, petitioned for a union election on TuesdayTo form a union in order to roughly 85 personAccording to one union organizer, this unit has support from more than 50 percent of employees. Workers had previously written to Dan Bane, CEO, in May to announce their union efforts. However, the company refused to recognize the union.

If the union succeeds, not only will they form the first-ever union for the company’s workers, but they will also lend major legitimacy to their independently-formed union, created similarly to the independent Amazon Labor Union. This would cause a lot of controversy within the supposedly progressive company. over 530 locationsAnd 50,000 employees.

This union effort could also spread to other places, as it comes amid successful union campaigns that have galvanized employees at companies such as Amazon and Starbucks. In the past few months, Starbucks employees have formed unions in 135 stores, with new wins coming in every week.

Workers say that, though Trader Joe’s has a reputation for treating its employees well, their pay and benefits have been slowly eroding, especially over the pandemic.

“Our benefits and our pay were just less supportive than they had been previously,” Hadley employee and union organizer Maeg Yosef told NPR. “We saw a lot of changes to our retirement and our health care. We saw our wages not keeping up with increased cost of living and then the pandemic just added to that sense of feeling undervalued and unappreciated.”

For instance, Yosef said that the company used to offer a 15 percent contribution to workers’ retirement funds each year when she started 18 years ago. That guarantee was later brought down to 10 percent, and then to zero last year when the company tweaked language in its employee handbook to specify that employees aren’t guaranteed retirement contributions.

Workers claim that the company’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated problems like decreased benefits and higher safety and health concerns. Although the company had offered measures like hazard payThese rules restricted the number of customers at the store early in the pandemic. They were later repealed when vaccines became readily available, but the pandemic continued.

A company spokesperson said that the company is “not interested in delaying the process in any way” and that it would welcome a union election, which is a similar message it gave to workers when they announced their union campaign.

Despite the neutral-sounding pledge, however the company has been actively opposing the union effort. As HuffPost reports, Trader Joe’s United has now filed severalThe company was accused of unfair labor practices. This includes sending a worker home for wearing union pins at work, removing union leaflets from employee areas, and preventing workers speaking to one another about wages.

The company has also sent President of Stores Jon Basalone to the location, claiming it was a regular visit that was unrelated to the union — though anti-union companies like StarbucksOrganizing workers are often intimidated and spied on by their executives.