In July, workers successfully voted union at Trader Joe’s in Hadley, Massachusetts, making it the first unionized Trader Joe’s in the country. Trader Joe’s in Minneapolis followed suit last week.
The successful election is part of a nationwide wave of labor action that includes Starbucks and Amazon. Unionized Starbucks employees near Boston University have been on strike for almost 30 days.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that places and companies that have become part of their brand identity by treating their employees well and entertaining them have been targeted. [for unionization] “These workers are used to being treated much better than other workers,” said food writer Kobe Comer. boston public radio Monday.
Kumar added that the COVID-19 pandemic and the political climate have been factors in recent unionization efforts. Some companies cut benefits early in the pandemic, but now workers have to fight to get it back.
“So many places that mean employers are much lazier and more financially distressed because of the pandemic, treating their employees worse,” he said. “Also, unions are more fashionable and have returned to popularity and worker awareness for the first time in decades.”
Kumar said unionization efforts at stores like Trader Joe’s are more difficult than at Starbucks. Still, he believes the future of Trader Joe’s unions could be indicative of the future of grocery store unions more broadly.
“I think Trader Joe’s is an important trailblazer for the future, and I’m proud that Massachusetts was the first trailblazer,” he said.