LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Less than one week after Louisville Trader Joe’s workers voted to unionize, Trader Joe’s has filed an objection to the election.
On Jan. 26, store employees voted 48-36 to join Trader Joe’s United, the independent union of Trader Joe’s workers formed last year.
In a document submitted to the National Labor Relations Board on Feb. 1, Trader Joe’s claims that union supporters created “an atmosphere of fear and coercion and interfered with the laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a free and fair election that compromised the validity of the election.”
The company alleges that union supporters intimidated other workers by “cornering them,” shouting, harassing them on social media and sending threatening text messages.
Connor Hovey, an employee and organizer at the Louisville grocery store, strongly denied those claims to Spectrum News 1.
“It’s interesting that the company is claiming that we tainted the ‘laboratory’ conditions of the election when we have several unfair labor practice charges on file against Trader Joe’s for coercion, intimidation, threats and surveillance in the weeks leading up to our election,” Hovey said.
“We also think it’s interesting that a company with such a progressive image is going to such lengths to delay the results of a fair, democratic process,” Hovey added.
Now that the company filed its objections to the election, they start a process outlined by the NLRB. Trader’s Joe’s must provide an offer of proof — evidence of the charges levied in their written objections. After that, a representative of the NRLB decides if the evidence is enough to hold a hearing and determine if the election was free and fair.
According to attorney Seth Goldstein, partner at Julien, Mirer, Singla & Goldstein, the evidence required to have a hearing is quite substantial. “It’s not an easy standard to meet,” he said.
Goldstein represents the Trader Joe’s workers’ union and is confident the charges made by the company won’t hold up. “The charges are very broad,” he declared. “They (attorneys for Trader Joe’s) played this game with Amazon before and Amazon didn’t have strong charges. These charges are even less than Amazon’s.”
“Our legal team is fully convinced that our election is still going to stand. We’re fully prepared, and we expected this,” Hovey said.
Workers with the Louisville Trader Joe’s, which is in St. Matthews, announced plans to unionize on Dec. 20, 2022. Just over a month later, on Jan. 26, the group announced unionization had won 48-36.
Hovey, who has been organizing the push for over nine months, says workers are advocating for better wages, better benefits and having health care that is not tied to hours worked. They are also asking for more accountability and uniformity for company policies, which are written and enforced differently at each store.
If the vote stands, Louisville will be the third Trader Joe’s in the nation to unionize and the first in the south.
“We are very confident that the vote will stand,” said Hovey.
Spectrum News 1 has reached out for comment from Trader Joe's, but hasn't heard back.