The Trader Joe's Union Effort Just Scored A Huge Win

Ever since the first Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for an official vote on whether to unionize under the auspices of Workers United back in December 2021 (via Vox), Starbucks employees have been getting a lot of attention for their successful unionization efforts across the country. 

But the workforce of another major retail has been quietly organizing. Trader Joe's employees have been looking to form a union in earnest ever since Trader Joe's management let them down regarding safety protocols during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic (per The New York Times). Trader Joe's workers have been furious with upper management.

For a variety of reasons, including not-quite-illegal tactics on the part of Trader Joe's management to discourage workers from organizing, as well as the pandemic itself, the Trader Joe's union has not reached critical mass like the Starbucks effort. But sure enough, things are happening on the Trader Joe's unionization front, and they're happening quickly. In fact, Trader Joe's union efforts, as personified by the burgeoning independent union, Trader Joe's United, announced the NLRB has set a date for the very first union vote at a Trader Joe's ever (via Twitter). And it's sooner than you might have expected.

Trader Joe's employees may be weeks away from union representation

On July 5, 2022, Trader Joe's United announced that its first union election will take place at the TJ's store in Hadley, Massachusetts on July 27th and 28th (via Twitter). What this means is that on those specified days, the employees of that specific Trader Joe's store will have the right to vote on whether their particular store should unionize. If at least 50% of the employees who vote in the election do so in favor of unionizing, then all of that store's 85 employees will be represented by the Trader Joe's union, Trader Joe's United, per U.C. Merced. The reason it's called an "election" is that, in effect, the employees are voting whether or not to "elect" the union as its representative in collective bargaining. 

This is a very big moment for union-minded Trader Joe's employees at the Hadley location, but also for employees at the store's other 500 or so locations who may be inspired to organize. As the National Law Review explains, the Hadley location will be the first to hold an election, and therefore, possibly precedent-setting. Workers at the Hadley location first filed for a union election on June 8, according to The New York Times. Since then, another collective of store employees at a Minneapolis Trader Joe's has filed with the NLRB for a union election, according to More Perfect Union (via Twitter). And who knows how many others may follow?