Workers at a Trader Joe’s store in Hadley, Massachusetts, are among the latest retail workers in the U.S. pushing to form a union. Organizers at the store sent an open letter dated May 14th, 2022, to Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane based in Monrovia, California. The letter references concerns about pay, benefits, and safety. Workers asked for a union election “without interference or obstruction.”
Some Trader Joe’s workers tried unsuccessfully to unionize at the start of the pandemic. Employees talked about organizing in light of safety concerns, but nothing came of those discussions after management sent a letter to workers saying that unions “drive discontent.”
The Hadley employees stated in their letter to Bane: “Since that letter arrived in our mailboxes, Trader Joe’s has continued to slash our benefits, as our wages stagnate and our safety concerns go unaddressed. A union is the only way to protect and improve our pay and benefits. The company’s actions have made this clear.”
The Associated Press reported that Maeg Yosef, an organizer who’s worked for 18 years at the Hadley store, said Trader Joe’s has cut contributions to employee retirement plans from about 15% of an employee’s pay down to zero during her time there.
“A lot of us have made a career with the company, and planning for retirement is important to us,” said Yosef, who stated that about two thirds of the approximately 100 crew members at the store are in favor of the union.
Trader Joe’s was asked for a response to the letter to Bane, and they referred to a note sent to Hadley store workers by a store manager assuring a fair union election.
The Hadley store employees are organizing under the name Trader Joe’s United and would be an independent union if their efforts succeed.
This attempt by Trader Joe’s workers to unionize is part of a recent larger trend of retail and food service employees seeking to organize unions. During the last few months, workers at an Amazon warehouse on New York’s Staten Island unionized, and so have several Starbucks stores.