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Trader Joe's employees in Hadley aim to form union, a first for the grocery chain

Trader Joe's in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Kevin Gutting
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
Trader Joe's in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Some employees at a Trader Joe's in Hadley, Massachusetts, are hoping to form the first union at that grocery chain in the country.

They have notified Trader Joe's president, Dan Bane,in a letter to the company's California headquarters.

Union organizer Jamie Edwards said they have been working at the Hadley store for nine years. Unsafe protocols early in the pandemic got people thinking seriously about a union, followed by changes around pay raises, health and retirement benefits.

"Trader Joe's reputation as being a very progressive, pro-worker company is one of the things that drives the customers to the store," Edwards said. "But over my years at the store, I've seen the gap between the reality and that image sort of keep widening."

Edwards said staff members at Trader Joe's were also inspired by recent, independent union drives at Amazon and Starbucks.

Organizers said they have support for a union vote from 65% of the Hadley store's approximately 100 employees. They said they are waiting for information from the National Labor Relations Board before officially launching a union drive.

A letter from a Hadley store manager said the company welcomes a fair vote if 30% of the crew wants one, and that management will not create any delays.

Calls to company headquarters were not returned.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.