Hadley, MA

Several Admit Mixed Feelings as Trader Joe's Sees 1st Unionized Store in MA, Many Fearing Recent Change is Unhelpful

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Although Trader Joe's Monrovia is Trader Joe's HQ, one store location in western Massachusetts recently voted to unionize the Hadley, Massachusetts store. Deals, such as on Trader Joe's Takis, draw customers from all walks of life. According to reports, the vote on-site was 45 to 31 to unionize. This makes the Hadley location the first ever Trader Joe's to unionize. [i]

The topic of unionizing always seems to be a touchy subject for businesses, especially when employees begin asserting that a union is necessary due to the company's below-standard business practices. Complaints include those against Trader Joe's for not implementing safety restrictions to safeguard employees during the pandemic. [ii]

Like many other large employers, Trader Joe's, a California-based business, is getting a glimpse of what it will be like working in collaboration with a union. This collaboration will occur under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). With more than 500 locations, this is likely just the tip of the iceberg for Trader Joe's in terms of unionization. The following video details an overview of labor unions and the pros and cons. [ii]

The California Labor Federation asserts that workers earn better wages through unions. They also state that "union workers earn 25 percent more than non-union workers." Additionally, union workers are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union." [iii]

Research has allegedly linked decreased union membership with shrinking middle-class income. Despite this, many still disagree with the notion that unionization is beneficial to both employees and employers. [iii]

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One YouTube video by the Competitive Enterprise Institute details a worker, Julius', experience with labor unions and how they allegedly hurt workers. The video claims that the availability of jobs is reduced due to labor unions, among other unwanted drawbacks. See below for what appears to be a minority and controversial opinion regarding the alleged harmful effect of labor unions. [iv]

Several commenters on the video disagree with the claims that unions harm workers. One commenter alludes to the poster having ulterior motives, as seen below.

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Screenshot from comment on public video.Charnell Gilchrist

Another commenter pokes holes in the video's theory that unions bankrupt businesses.

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Screenshot from comment on public video.Charnell Gilchrist

Despite some believing otherwise, unionizing store locations may benefit Trader Joe's employees more. Some may recall the July 2021 incident in which Trader Joe's was again accused of violating its workers' rights. According to interviews with workers at the flagship Trader Joe's in Pasadena, California, many workers became disgruntled after the pandemic. Workers allegedly became increasingly dissatisfied with Trader Joe's faltering business practices. [v]

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Unionizing, as the Hadley, Massachusetts Trader Joe's location has done, may mean resolution of issues between union reps and the company before needing to file a complaint with the Fair Labor Standards Board. Previous Trader Joe's employees at the Pasadena location felt driven to do so with no union to turn to. [vi]

Workers will be represented and allegedly have more exceptional protection of their company benefits when unionized. For those residing in California, unionization may give workers a more significant leg up in a region where the cost of living is already so high. Despite the negative connotations often associated with unionizing, it is worth looking into for those it directly affects. Trader Joe's Mission Valley could be next in line to consider unionizing. [vii]

Soon, more people may ask, "Is Trader Joe's a Union Job."

References

[i] Lauren Kaori Gurley, Trader Joe's workers vote to unionize for the first time, (Jul. 28, 2022)

[ii] Id.

[iii] California Labor Federation, Working People Standing Together: Unions 101, (2022)

[iv] Competitive Enterprise Institute, The Life of Julius: How Unions Hurt Workers, (Apr. 29, 2013)

[v] Jacobin, Trader Joe's Is Once Again Accused of Violating Workers' Rights, (Jul. 2, 2021)

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id.

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Currently pursuing a Juris Doctor at Western State, writer Charnell Gilchrist is writing her way through law school.

Aliso Viejo, CA
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