On Thursday, employees at a Trader Joe’s supermarket in Massachusetts became the latest workers at a major company to approve a labour union.
The store is the first Trader Joe’s with an employees’ union. The union vote, counted by National Labor Relations Board agents in front of witnesses from management and employees, passed 45-31 with one void. Eighty-one employees were eligible to vote.
While the company has seven days to file an objection, company spokesperson Nakia Rohde didn’t indicate whether there would be one, noting the company already has among the best package of pay, benefits and working conditions in the grocery store business.
“We are prepared to immediately begin discussions with union representatives for the employees at this store to negotiate a contract,” she said in the statement. “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, health care and working conditions such as scheduling and job flexibility.”
Organizers at the store launched the effort in May in an open letter to chief executive officer Dan Bane, citing concerns about pay, benefits and safety. Now that the union has been approved, the next step is putting together a negotiating committee to hammer out a contract with the California-based company, which has about 530 stores nationwide.
“We must embrace this challenge head on, together, and negotiate a contract that reflects the values Trader Joe’s has long claimed to espouse,” the union said in a tweet.
Workers from at least two other Trader Joe’s locations have initiated unionization efforts. Employees at a Minneapolis location have a union vote scheduled for Aug. 11 and 12, while the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 filed a union election petition on Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of crew members at a store in Boulder, CO store.
The Trader Joe’s workers are part of a nationwide wave of employees at major companies who have or are attempting to unionize in an effort to secure a bigger say in their work conditions and compensation. Workers at multiple Starbucks Corp. coffee shop locations across the country, as well as employees at Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. are among those who have joined unions in the past year.