Merchant Joe broke labor laws in an attempt to stop the unionization of shops, workers say

Merchant Joe broke labor laws in an attempt to stop the unionization of shops, workers say

Merchant Joe broke labor laws in an attempt to stop the unionization of shops, workers say

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<p><figcaption class=Photography: Carol Lollis / AP

Trader Joe’s workers successfully won union elections this year in stores in Hadley, Massachusetts, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, but now numerous workers have filed numerous allegations of unfair labor practices against the specialty supermarket chain in the United States. claiming that the company violated labor laws in an attempt to prevent further shops from unionizing.

The move comes as a wave of union efforts sweeps across sectors of the US economy, including household names like Starbucks and Amazon. The situation at Trader Joe’s is particularly notable as the company has cultivated a liberal brand ethic and anti-union moves risk denting that public image.

In Boulder, Colorado, Trader Joe’s workers had petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election in July to join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7.

The same month, Trader Joe announced company-wide increases in salaries and benefits, including an increase in employee discounts from 10 to 20%, a $ 10 hour bonus for Sunday, an increase in paid leave. and market rate pay adjustments as well as claims for long-term wage disparities between employees and new hires.

“We believe it was a response to union activity not only in this store, but in other stores across the country as well,” said Jim Hammons, organizational director of UFCW Local 7. “This in itself is illegal, they cannot to do it. “

The union recently withdrew the election petition and filed unfair labor practices charges for announcing new wages and benefits during the unionization campaign and has filed several other cases of retaliation. They include the use of company property used by some shop workers to create anti-union buttons and retaliation against a union worker they claim by removing him from their regular Sunday shift and replacing him with an anti-union worker.

Trader Joe’s also retained Littler Mendelson, a law firm to avoid unions that Starbucks has also maintained since dozens of stores in the United States have syndicated over the past year.

Aspen McKinzie, a Trader Joe worker at the Boulder store, explained that the union organizing campaign began earlier this year due to worker complaints about wage increases and benefits emanating from the company during the pandemic that are been taken away without any input from workers.

“It’s a very superficial attempt to discourage people from unionizing by trying to make them feel like their employer is really taking care of them. But none of this is protected and they can take it away whenever they want, “McKinzie said.” If they really care that much, they would pay us a lot more instead of paying a bunch of lawyers who break unions to feed our management lines. “.

At the start of the Covid pandemic, Trader Joe’s chief executive Dan Bane issued a company-wide reminder calling unions organizing efforts a “distraction” between claims for risk indemnity and security protections.

That memorandum was cited by workers who launched the first union campaign at Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts earlier this year, arguing that employee retirement benefits were unilaterally halved by the company and that wage increases expected during the pandemics were canceled despite fears of high inflation.

Keenan Dailey, who worked at Trader Joe’s for 14 years in Boulder, also cited those cuts as an inspiration for the union organizing campaign, as workers were unhappy with those sudden cuts.

“They were worried that without that extra money they wouldn’t be sure how they would pay their bills. Some of them had re-signed a lease with their apartment, expecting to have that extra $ 2 an hour, “Dailey said.” And then, to add insult to injury, we found that the new hires were making money. $ 2 more an hour. “

He noted that the July pay and benefits announcement severely disrupted the union campaign, but stressed that those benefits can be stolen at the whim of the employer without a contract.

“When you’re destroying the syndicate, you can do it through the carrot or the stick, so to speak, and Trader Joe’s was trying to use the carrot,” Dailey said. “We need a contract to keep it. And we might be able to get more, but if we don’t have a contract, we’ll probably lose it in the next year or two, at least partially. “

In New York City, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) filed a complaint that Trader Joe’s abruptly closed a wine shop in New York City just days before workers planned to apply for a union election. UFCW has launched a petition to ask Trader Joe’s to reopen the shop and has signaled its intention to pursue legal action.

Merchant Joe denied that the store closure was linked to unionization efforts and claimed the store was closed due to poor performance. But the employees were not given any notice of the closure of the store and the location had several years of lease left.

Merchant Joe’s did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story in response to allegations made by Boulder workers. In previous comments on unionization efforts, a Trader Joe’s spokesperson said, “Trader Joe’s respects our team’s right to support a union – or not.”

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