The Trader Joe’s store on College Avenue in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland has become the grocery store chain’s first California store to unionize.
On April 20th, according to a press release, the workers at store #231 voted 73-53 in favor of forming a union. Those results were apparently certified this week by the National Labor Relations Board. “I am incredibly proud to be part of this courageous crew. Because of them, we have a seat at the bargaining table, and our voices can finally be heard by Trader Joe’s Corporate,” Oakland employee organizer Dominique Bernardo said in a statement reported by The Chronicle.
Workers decided to take action, citing concerns over wages, pay discrepancies, benefits, and safety. Three out-of-state Trader Joe’s locations in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Kentucky have also unionized, although the location in Louisville, KY, is still pending final approval. The move to unionize in Oakland means the Rockridge location will join in contract negotiations that have already been underway with the other locations since November of last year. “We are thrilled to be certified and can’t wait to sit at the bargaining table and work toward a contract that will improve our pay, benefits, and working conditions,” Bernardo told KRON.
Crewmembers claimed last month that bosses at the College Avenue store were union-busting by threatening to “retaliate against employees if they joined or supported a union” and “interrogating employees about their union activities,” as reported by SFGate last month. A Trader Joe’s in New York City held a unionization vote on the same day as the vote in Oakland, but that vote ended in a 76-76 tie, which resulted in a loss for union supporters.
Trader Joe’s, which is headquartered in Monrovia, CA, began expanding from Southern California into Northern California in the late 80s. The chain now has more than 450 locations nationwide. Nothing is expected to change for shoppers since the union decision has been officially certified.