Workers at a Trader Joe’s retailer in Louisville will vote this week to find out whether or not they develop into the chain’s third retailer to kind a union in lower than a yr. Trader Joe’s has advised workers there it welcomes a good election, however the firm doesn’t sound thrilled with the prospect of one other organized retailer.
A photograph shared with HuffPost reveals the Louisville location’s break room door crammed with what the union supporter known as “anti-union propaganda.” One flier provided scary-sounding “facts” about collective bargaining, warning that unions promise no matter they should to be able to safe votes.
“A union can trade away things that you might want,” it famous forebodingly.
Another flier warned that employees’ flexibility might vanish underneath a collective bargaining settlement. “Think of every time an exception or adjustment was made for you. Will that be allowed under a contract?”
Yet one other took purpose on the upstart union, Trader Joe’s United, that has efficiently organized two shops to date, one in Hadley, Massachusetts, the opposite in Minneapolis. “The union refuses to accept other opinions,’” the flier charged, “including that there are Crew who do not want a union.”
“Is this the organization that you want representing you and speaking for you?” it requested.
Connor Hovey, a employee on the retailer energetic within the union marketing campaign, stated the corporate was responsible for any antagonism surrounding the organizing marketing campaign. He known as the content material of the fliers “either untrue or very grossly misrepresented.”
“It’s just another way to try to keep crew members at our store divided and to keep having that divisive mentality,” stated Hovey, who has labored on the chain for 4 years. “It’s very one-sided. Most people see right through it.”
Hovey stated fliers that the union had put out within the break room have been “promptly removed.”
Trader Joe’s didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Tuesday. It isn’t clear who put the fliers up within the Louisville retailer, however they have been written from the angle of administration.
“It’s just another way to try to keep crew members at our store divided.”
– Trader Joe’s employee Connor Hovey
The Louisville election is a crucial one for the younger labor marketing campaign. Trader Joe’s United, which isn’t affiliated with a longtime union, received its first two votes final summer season by wholesome margins: 45-31 in Hadley and 55-5 in Minnesota, creating the primary unionized shops within the California-based chain’s historical past.
But it lost a third vote at a retailer in October in Brooklyn, New York, the place employees voted 94-66 in opposition to unionizing. (The firm shut down its wine retailer in New York City shortly earlier than employees there deliberate to announce their intention to affix the United Food and Commercial Workers union.)
A victory in Louisville wouldn’t solely add one other retailer to the union’s column however plant a flag within the South, the place union density tends to be decrease. Just 7.9% of employees in Kentucky are members of labor unions, in comparison with 10.1% for the U.S. writ large.
A union wants to collect signatures from 30% of employees at a website to be able to get an election scheduled by the National Labor Relations Board, however should obtain a majority of votes solid to be able to win and develop into the employees’ consultant. Hovey declined to say what number of employees signed union playing cards. Roughly 100 employees on the retailer are eligible to unionize.
Trader Joe’s has been encouraging as many employees to vote as attainable. “Remember you can vote ‘no union’ even if you signed an authorization card,” one flier famous. Hovey stated in current days managers have pulled employees apart and advised them “not voting is the same as a ‘yes’ vote.”
The Trader Joe’s marketing campaign is a part of a wave of latest organizing that has hit main meals and retail employers over the previous yr and a half. Workers have fashioned the primary U.S. unions at Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, REI and Chipotle, amongst others, and at the moment are making an attempt to discount first contracts in any respect of these firms. The labor board not too long ago stated final fiscal yr noticed the most important enhance in union election petitions since 2016.
Much of the organizing was spurred on partly by the stresses of the pandemic, when many employees got here to really feel their employers have been detached to their security and well-being. In the case of Trader Joe’s, profit reductions have additionally performed a task. Many employees have been livid when the corporate lowered its discretionary 401(okay) contribution for many workers by half final yr.
“Higher-ups have crafted this lovely image that they take care of us so well, but that isn’t the case when benefits get slashed,” Hovey stated.
“The Trader Joe’s campaign is part of a wave of new organizing that has hit major food and retail employers over the past year and a half.”
Trader Joe’s United not too long ago circulated a doc entitled “Trader Joe’s Union Busting Campaign – A Guide for the Crew, by the Crew.” It rebutted various “tactics and talking points” the union stated the corporate had deployed, together with disciplining employees for carrying union buttons, pulling employees apart and inspiring them to vote in opposition to the union, and telling them a union will result in inflexible guidelines and schedules.
“We are hearing the same false talking points at every store that’s filed for an election,” the employees wrote.
The doc drew a direct response from Jon Basalone, Trader Joe’s president of shops, who despatched a letter to employees on the Louisville retailer in early January, a duplicate of which was offered to HuffPost.
Basalone denied that he or different Trader Joe’s higher-ups have been visiting explicit shops expressly due to union exercise (Basalone had frolicked within the Hadley retailer earlier than the election there).
“Visiting stores and talking with Crew Members is what we do,” Basalone wrote, noting that he labored in Trader Joe’s shops for 11 years.
He known as the implication that these within the company places of work don’t care about employees within the retailer “as humorous as it is insulting.”
Hovey stated the Louisville retailer has not obtained a go to from Basalone since going public with their union marketing campaign, although a regional supervisor for the corporate has dropped by not less than twice.