Trader Joe's employees in Massachusetts have gathered enough signatures from their co-workers to hold a vote on forming a union.

On Wednesday, Trader Joe's United announced that it had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a vote on whether or not to unionize the store. An established labor union is not associated with the campaign.

The National Labor Relations Board will greenlight an election if at least 30% of a workplace signs union authorization cards. Trader Joe's United said it had gathered a lot of signatures. The labor board has to review the workers petition to see if they are allowed to vote.

A successful union campaign could quickly spread to other Trader Joe's stores. Workers at Starbucks have unionized more than 120 stores in a matter of months after decades of being free of unions.

“We have a ton of support and we’re just moving forward the best we can.”

- Maeg Yosef, Trader Joe's United

Trader Joe's will not stand in the way of a vote, according to a spokesman for the store.

Trader Joe's compensation, benefits and working conditions are some of the best in the grocery business. If more than 30% of the crew want a vote, we are prepared to hold a vote.

Trader Joe's has rejected unionization attempts before. The CEO of Trader Joe's called a union organizing campaign a distraction. Employees were invited to vote on a union.

Workers at the store have filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, saying managers interfered with their union efforts. Two workers told the Huffington Post that they were ordered to leave for the day or remove their union pins. There aren't many circumstances in which an employer can legally require a worker to take off their union logo.

Maeg Yosef, who has worked at Trader Joe's for 18 years, said she was one of the people told to remove their pins. She said the literature was removed from the break room. Yosef stated that labor attorneys have been advising the workers on their rights.

She said that they had a lot of support and were just moving forward.

Trader Joe’s has brushed off unionization efforts in the past. In 2020, CEO Dan Bane called a union organizing campaign a “distraction,” saying a union could not improve on what Trader Joe’s offers.
Trader Joe’s has brushed off unionization efforts in the past. In 2020, CEO Dan Bane called a union organizing campaign a “distraction,” saying a union could not improve on what Trader Joe’s offers.

Yosef said that the perception of Trader Joe's has changed over time. The company has taken some steps that have angered long-time employees, despite the fact that the grocery store has been seen as a decent place to work. This year it slashed retirement benefits by half for many workers and reduced the company's 401(k) contribution from 10% to 5%.

Trader Joe's lost a lot of its sheen when workers toiled through the Pandemic and felt like their safety concerns weren't taken seriously. Even though he had a long tenure, his retirement contributions were cut.

The company was trying to make people want to join a union.

The Amazon Labor Union pulled off an upset at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, earlier this year. Since everyone involved in the union is a worker, independent unions are immune to management's attempts to paint them as a third party.

If the union doesn't have enough support, election petitions are often withdrawn. After filing for an election, the Amazon Labor Union withdrew that petition, then re-filed for the election in March.

In order to become the workers' bargaining representative, a union needs a simple majority of votes. If the company runs an anti-union campaign that erodes support, unions usually go for an election. If they continue to organize in the run-up to the vote, and file for an election with a minority of support, they can still win.

Jon Basalone, the chain's president of stores, visited the store recently. Yosef thinks that the visit was tied to the union effort.

She thinks that sending Jon Basalone already means that they are scared.