Trader Joe’s Faces Union Trend

Workers at a NYC store are voting on whether to join.

April 19, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Trader Joe’s United, which is not associated with any established national union, may have a fourth store join the fold, joining locations in Minneapolis, Louisville and Hadley, Massachusetts.

About 200 workers at a NYC location are in the midst of voting. According to Gothamist, the union effort at the location picked up momentum about two years ago, amid rollbacks of COVID-era policies, including plexiglass barriers and hazard pay.

According to The City, “Trader Joe’s United is calling on the company to increase wages to $30 an hour from a current starting point of about $18, and also to increase health care access, improve health and safety measures, and make guaranteed contributions to employees’ retirement plans.”

Workers in Oakland are also voting soon on union membership and have accused the grocer of union busting.

The Hadley location was the first to unionize, in 2022. At the time, Trader Joe’s released a statement reading in part, “Trader Joe’s offers its crew members a package of pay, benefits and working conditions that is among the best in the grocery business.”

Last month, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on labor relations at Starbucks—probing whether the company broke any federal laws.

Reuters reported that some senators on the committee questioned the time frame it took for Starbucks to reach contracts with its stores in Buffalo, New York, which were its first to unionize.

In written testimony, Former CEO Schultz said that Starbucks engaged in good faith bargaining and arranged “more than 350 bargaining sessions involving more than 200 sets of negotiations—each relating to a single store—and Starbucks representatives have been physically present at more than 85 sets of negotiations.”

Schultz also said that union representatives “have improperly demanded multi-store negotiations, delayed or refused to attend meetings, and insisted on unlawful preconditions such as ‘virtual’ bargaining and participation by outside observers.” He also maintained that Starbucks has complied with the National Labor Relations Act.