Trader Joe’s union and the company begin negotiations in Northampton

By Dusty Christensen

HADLEY – Workers at Trader Joe’s in Hadley are heading to the bargaining table for the first-ever collective bargaining with the company. And they won’t be alone.

Three months after workers at the supermarket chain voted 45 to 31 in a landmark election to form the independent Trader Joe’s United union, they sit down with management Thursday and Friday at Smith College. They will be joined by other members of Trader Joe’s United in Minneapolis, who voted 55-5 to unionize just two weeks after Hadley workers won their union.

Maeg Yosef, a longtime Hadley store crew member and union organizer, said Trader Joe’s United members were pushing for joint bargaining. She said the workers shared problems and wanted to come together to solve them.

“We feel we are stronger together as a union,” Yosef said. “We feel really excited and optimistic that we will sit down with Trader Joe’s and both parties will negotiate in good faith.”

Workers at the Hadley store said they were organizing to improve worker safety, benefits and wages. Ahead of their union vote this summer, they raised concerns about recent cuts the company has made to health care and pension benefits.

Trader Joe’s did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Negotiations at Smith College come a week after a setback for Trader Joe’s United in Brooklyn, where workers voted 94 to 66 against joining the union. Organizers said management learned of their union will before they could speak to all of their colleagues and soon after fired a prominent union supporter, according to The New York Times.

Currently, Hadley and Minneapolis are the only stores to unionize at Trader Joe’s, which has more than 500 locations and 50,000 employees.

Since announcing their own labor campaign, Hadley crew members have filed a series of unfair labor practice charges against Trader Joe’s, alleging the company violated federal labor laws by hitting back at labor organizers. , using coercive tactics to fight the union, making unilateral changes to working conditions and more.

Yosef said despite the company’s “union busting” past, she and other organizers hope the company sits down in good faith to negotiate on Thursday and Friday.

“We are happy to put all of this behind us,” she said.

However, the workers have already suffered some setback from the company. Organizers say Trader Joe’s refused to negotiate in a hybrid setting, forcing Minneapolis employees to travel to Northampton at their own expense for negotiations.

“Trader Joe’s must accept hybrid trading if he is truly committed to the integrity of the trading process!” The union said Wednesday on social media.

Trader Joe’s is employing global law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius during negotiations, according to the union.

Morgan Lewis has a history of opposing unions. In recent years, McDonald’s has used the company’s services to fight workers demanding a $15 hourly minimum wage and other job improvements. And in 2020, Amazon hired the company to fight union organizing efforts at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Dusty Christensen is a freelance investigative journalist based in Western Massachusetts. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @dustyc123.

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