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Trader Joe's employees in Hadley vote to unionize

Employees at the Trader Joe's grocery store in Hadley, Massachusetts, have taken a big step forward in their efforts to unionize.

Employees were able to cast their votes on Thursday. Two National Labor Relations Board agents tallied the votes with 45 employees in favor of unionizing and 31 opposed — of the 81 employees eligible to vote.

Catherine Terrell, a field attorney with the National Labor Relations Board, said those in favor of forming a union and those opposed have seven days to file objections to the election before the votes are certified.

"A sufficient number of votes was cast for the labor organization. The parties have seven days to file objections to the election before the votes are certified," Terrell said.

The Hadley Trader Joe's would be the first of the chain's locations in the country to unionize if the votes are certified.

Maeg Yosef, an employee at the Hadley location and union organizer, wasn't discouraged by the 31 employees opposed to unionizing.

"We believe that we can unify. We are all in the same union now.
We are all ready to work and negotiate in the crew's best interests," Yosef said. "We have a collective motivation to do that, so I hope that we come together [and] communicate about what we want to see in the contract."

Woody Hoagland has worked at Trader Joes since 2008 and helped organize union support. He said he already started speaking with those who opposed.

"I took them aside and said, 'I know that it's been a pretty tumultuous time here, but we've been going one direction and it's now time to turn around and start coming back the other way and coming back together,'" Hoagland said. "I foresee a lot of people who worked against the forming of the union, becoming integral members of it and trying to make it the best union it can be."

The Hadley employees who organized and advocated for the creation of a union frequently posts updates on their Trader Joe's United twitter page including this statement after the vote.

Union efforts began in May when employees notified Trader Joe's president, Dan Bane, of their intentions in a letter to the company's California headquarters.

Trader Joe's corporate headquarters also issued a statement after the vote saying it is prepared to begin discussions 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," the statement reads.

Updated: July 29, 2022 at 9:03 AM EDT
This story has been updated to include reactions from several Trader Joe's Hadley location employees and union organizers.
Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.