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Trader Joe’s in Louisville Seeks to Become Third Location to Unionize

The union says it has collected signed union cards from “well over” 30 percent of staff.

Trader Joe’s workers in Louisville, Kentucky, have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to form a union, seeking to become the third-ever Trader Joe’s location to do so.

Workers have petitioned to join an independent union, Trader Joe’s United, which was formed earlier this year by a now-unionized location in Hadley, Massachusetts. The union says “well over” 30 percent of the employees at the store have signed union cards, the threshold needed to file for a union election. The unit would cover about 100 employees, according to the filing.

“Trader Joe’s has been a second home to all of us,” said worker and organizer Connor Hovey. “We want to make our workplace equitable and accepting for everyone, and unionizing felt like the next logical step for all of us.”

Hovey says that workers have been in the process of unionizing for eight months, and that workers have been inspired to unionize by the company’s lack of transparency from corporate.

“One of the main things we have all rallied around throughout this process is seeking direct accountability. A lot of our crew’s concerns stem from the fact that lots of decisions in the company are made on a store by store basis, and there are not many clear and concise rules and regulations from our corporate offices,” Hovey told Truthout. “We want to focus on making sure that everyone, including the corporate offices, is held accountable and committed to keeping the crew safe, happy, and healthy.”

Workers marched on their manager this week to demand that the company allow a fair election, without interference.

If the union effort is successful, the store will join Trader Joe’s locations in Hadley and Minneapolis that voted to unionize earlier this year. It would be a victory for the union that most recently saw defeat in October, when workers at a Brooklyn, New York, location voted against the union after the company posted a note about the union effort in the backroom of the store and fired an organizer of the effort.

Indeed, the company has come out swinging against the union effort, including at the Louisville location, despite the company’s progressive image. “It is very clear to us that corporate had a plan of attack to stop this organizing effort right out of the gate,” Hovey said.

The company has hired notorious union-busting firm Littler Mendelson in its anti-union campaign and employed several tactics typical of union-busting companies. Just before the union election in Hadley in July, the company announced that it would be giving workers a significant raise of an extra $10 an hour on Sundays and holidays — a move that companies often use to dissuade workers from voting for the union.

The Trader Joe’s union movement has been just one of several campaigns at prominent, household-name companies this year. Workers at companies like Starbucks and Amazon have seen success this year, with both campaigns spreading across the country and inspiring workers in other retail jobs.