Labor

Brooklyn Trader Joe’s joins the push to unionize

Workers at the Williamsburg grocery store on Friday filed paperwork to begin the process of joining the Trader Joe’s United union. Two of the grocer’s locations unionized this summer.
Trader Joe's
Workers at a Trader Joe's in Brooklyn are starting the unionization process. / Photo: Shutterstock

Trader Joe’s workers at a market in Brooklyn, New York, are seeking to become the latest in the grocery chain to unionize, according to documents filed Friday with the National Labor Relations Board.

The store in Williamsburg in Brooklyn has 185 employees, according to the filing.

Organizers there are seeking to join the existing union Trader Joe’s United, which now counts two locations among its ranks. Last month, workers at a Trader Joe’s store in downtown Minneapolis voted to join the union, following those at a market in Hadley, Massachusetts, who voted to do the same in July.

Trader Joe’s did not immediately respond to a WGB request to comment on the latest unionization activity.

The Williamsburg Trader Joe’s location, an 18,000-square-foot market in a mixed-use project, has only been open for about 10 months.

Workers at the store allege racial discrimination and poor working conditions, according to a report in the pro-union, progressive publication More Perfect Union.

Employees, according to the report, handed out fliers to shoppers at the Williamsburg store that said Trader Joe’s had fired a Black union organizer a day after the company learned about the plans to organize.

Workers are asking for management to reinstate the fired employee, More Perfect Union reported, adding that the grocer has “a pattern of inappropriately targeting workers of color for discipline.”

“We are asking you to stand with our crew as we work together for the protections and fair working conditions we deserve,” the employee handout said, according to the publication.  

Unionization in restaurants, grocery stores and other companies has swept the country in recent months as those who stayed on the job during the height of the pandemic demand better working conditions.

Union representatives for Kroger in Ohio are slated to return to the bargaining table with the Cincinnati-based grocer Tuesday as the two sides work to avert a potential strike of as many as 12,500 Kroger workers at 82 stores.

Earlier this month, workers at a New Seasons Market in Portland, Oregon, voted to become the first in the grocery chain to unionize.

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks now has more than 200 unionized stores.

Monrovia, California-based Trader Joe’s was founded in 1967 and now operates more than 500 stores around the country.

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