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Trader Joe’s workers in Western Mass. push ahead with union vote

The Hadley store would be the first location of the 500-plus store chain where workers are unionized.

Workers and shoppers outside a Trader Joe's in Brookline in 2020. Employees at the grocery chain's location in Hadley have filed for a union election.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Workers at a Trader Joe’s store in Western Massachusetts filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, less than a month after announcing their intent to do so in a letter to company chief executive Dan Bane.

If their efforts succeed, the Hadley store will become the first and only unionized location of the cult favorite grocery chain, which has more than 530 stores nationwide (20 in Massachusetts).

Employees — dubbed “crew members” by Trader Joe’s — will be represented by Trader Joe’s United, a new and independent labor organization that follows in the footsteps of other worker-led unions at Amazon and Starbucks.

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The push in Hadley is supported by “well over” 30 percent of employees, the threshold required by the NLRB to hold an election, according to a press release from Trader Joe’s United. A letter from the Hadley manager to workers that was posted following the organizing committee’s initial announcement in May stated that the California-based company would welcome “a fair vote if more than 30% of the Crew wants one,” and that it would not delay the process “in any way.”

In the last month, Trader Joe’s United has also filed “numerous” unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, including claims that Trader Joe’s management asked organizing workers to remove union buttons. In their initial letter to Bane, the organizing committee cited slashed benefits, ignored safety concerns, and stagnant wages as reasons behind the union push. Trader Joe’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.

“We hope the union-busting activities of the last few weeks are behind us,” said crew member and organizer Adelaide Petrin in Wednesday’s release. “We hope to operate ‘without obstruction’ from here on out, and we hope Trader Joe’s is true to their word and does not delay the process further.”

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Trader Joe’s United expects the NLRB to schedule a date for the election soon, said Maeg Yosef, a campaign organizer who has worked at Trader Joe’s for 18 years.


Annie Probert can be reached at annie.probert@globe.com.