Trader Joe’s is challenging the formation of a union at a Louisville, Ky. store, according to documents filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Workers at the store voted 48-36 to join Trader Joe’s United, the independent union of Trader Joe’s workers formed last year, but the retailer has reportedly claimed that the union supporters created “an atmosphere of fear and coercion and interfered with the laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a free and fair election that compromised the validity of the election,” according to Spectrum News.
Trader Joe’s allegations include that union supporters intimidated other workers by “cornering them,” shouting, harassing them on social media and sending threatening text messages, according to Spectrum News. The retailer now must provide proof of the written objections, at which point the NLRB will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to hold a hearing on the matter.
Trader Joe’s United has denied the grocery retailer’s claims. “It’s interesting that the company is claiming that we tainted the ‘laboratory’ conditions of the election when we have several unfair labor practice charges on file against Trader Joe’s for coercion, intimidation, threats, and surveillance in the weeks leading up to our election,” said Connor Hovey, Trader Joe’s Associate and Trader Joe’s United Organizer in a statement. “We also think it’s interesting that a company with such a progressive image is going to such lengths to delay the results of a fair, democratic process.”
Trader Joe’s United organized the push at the Louisville store for nine months and has sought better wages, improved benefits and access to healthcare not tied to hours worked. The union also is seeking more accountability for company policies, which have been written and enforced differently at individual stores.
Amazon also has been facing off against unionized workers. In a recent case, the NLRB ruled that Amazon should recognize a union formed at a warehouse in Staten Island last year. While the specifics of the cases aren’t identical — the Amazon warehouse employs 8,000 people and the exact allegations made against the union aren’t known — it could be a sign that Trader Joe’s has an uphill battle ahead.
As of press time, Trader Joe’s had not responded to a request for comment.