Trader Joe’s employees at a store in Massachusetts voted Thursday to unionize, a first for the supermarket chain.
The store in Hadley, about 80 miles west of Boston. The union vote, counted by National Labor Relations Board agents in front of witnesses from management and employees, passed 45-31 with one void. Eighty-one store workers — called crew members or merchants in company lingo — were eligible to vote.
The union, Trader Joe’s United, said in a Twitter post, “We won!”
“This victory is historic, but not a surprise,” the tweet said. “Since the moment we announced our campaign, a majority of the crew have enthusiastically supported our union, and despite the company’s best efforts to bust us, our majority has never wavered.”
Organizers at the Hadley store launched the effort in May in an open letter to company CEO Dan Bane citing concerns about pay, benefits and safety. The company has seven days to file an objection.
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Trader Joe’s spokesperson Nakia Rohde said the company was prepared to “immediately begin discussions with union representatives for the employees at this store to negotiate a contract.”
“We are willing to use any current union contract for a multi-state grocery company with stores in the area, selected by the union representatives, as a template to negotiate a new structure for the employees in this store; including pay, retirement, healthcare , and working conditions such as scheduling and job flexibility,” Rohde said in a statement.
The next step, now that the union has been approved, is putting together a negotiating committee to hammer out a contract with the California-based company.
The vote comes amid a nationwide wave of employees at major companies who have or are attempting to unionize in an effort to secure a bigger say in their work conditions and compensation. Workers at two other Trader Joe’s locations have initiated unionization efforts.
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Meanwhile, workers at multiple Starbucks coffee shop locations across the country, as well as employees at Amazon, Apple, and REI are among those who have joined unions in the past year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.