Why Some NYC-Based Trader Joe's Workers Are Furious With Store Management

Trader Joe's workers are the latest employees of a corporate retailer to rally for higher wages, improved health and retirement benefits, and safer working conditions in what's shaping up to be the year of the union election. The New York Times reports that a group of employees at a Trader Joe's outpost in Hadley, Massachusetts filed for a union vote on Tuesday, which occurred on the heels of a controversial event wherein a worker at the location was told to go home for wearing a pro-union pin (via HuffPost). The incident followed another headline-making skirmish at the market chain last year when a manager temporarily fired an employee for requesting COVID-19 protections, such as stricter face mask policies (per The Daily Beast). Then, in April, Trader Joe's lost a $44,000 employee lawsuit for breaking Seattle's "secure scheduling law," per Seattle Times.

As we know from the campaigns proliferating among workers like the unionization push at Starbucks, it only takes one small group of people to spark a nationwide union drive. We might be seeing that pattern in action at Trader Joe's, whose latest managerial transgression is coming out of New York City.

Managers failed to warn workers of an active shooter threat

A video shared this week on the Reddit board WorkReform shows Trader Joe's workers confronting management at an outpost in New York City's Murray Hill neighborhood. The workers can be heard demanding "immediate changes to safety protocol" after their managers put them at risk by allegedly failing to warn them of an active shooter threat in the store last week. "I would not be calm at all if I found out there was a shooting threat and [...] management failed to inform staff," wrote a commenter. "Imagine going to work and you become a hostage [...] as soon as you get there because the boss didn't tell you to stay away from the building," wrote another.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 254 mass shootings so far this year. One of those mass shootings took place in April in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, just 10 miles from the Murray Hill Trader Joe's. With anxiety over gun violence at an all-time high, Trader Joe's employees were furious when they learned that their managers didn't alert them of an alleged gunman on the premises. "Good for them," wrote one Redditor, applauding the initiative of the outpost's workers. "Don't agonize. Unionize!" If more incidents like this take place at TJ's, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Hadley union push catch on in NYC and beyond.