LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trader Joe’s United, the union group for Trader Joe’s in Louisville, has filed charges against the company for what it alleges were disciplinary actions taken against employees for supporting the union.

What You Need To Know

  •  The union group is accusing Trader Joe's of engaging in unfair labor practices 

  • One union organizer has been fired and others have faced disciplinary actions

  •  According to a lawyer for the group, these actions cause a "chilling effect" to discourage union activity

  • Trader Joe's filed a formal objection to the union vote on Jan. 26 in which workers voted 48-36 to unionize

Seth Goldstein, a partner at Julien, Mirer, Singla & Goldstein, who represents the union, announced the charges on Wednesday on Twitter. 

Goldstein told Spectrum News 1 they are seeking a temporary injunction from the National Labor Relations Board to stop unfair practices in response to the union vote. He said a union organizer has been fired and others have faced disciplinary actions. Goldstein says these actions create a “chilling effect” to discourage union activity and are similar to actions taken by companies like Starbucks and Amazon.

“We’re at a crucial period right now. The administrative process takes a long time and won’t be settled in time to stop the chill that is taking place,” Goldstein commented.

According to Goldstein’s tweet, formal charges were sent to the NLRB. The union accuses Trader Joe’s of violating the section of the National Labor Relations Act that forbids employers from interfering with, restraining or coercing employees from exercising their right to unionize. Goldstein’s post shows a portion of the filing.

In another social media post, Goldstein also accused Trader Joe’s and their representation, Morgan Lewis Law, of “engaging in an illegal scheme” to deny workers at the Louisville store the right to join the union. He accuses them of attempting to strip workers of their union rights, despite workers voting in favor of the union in late January.

The charges are the latest in a back-and-forth between Trader Joe’s and the union. Workers for the St. Matthews store voted in favor of unionizing 48-36 on Jan. 26. A week later, the company filed an objection to the vote, saying that union supporters created “an atmosphere of fear and coercion and interfered with the laboratory conditions necessary to conduct a free and fair election.” Those actions, the company alleged, compromised the validity of the election.

Trader Joe’s objection started a review process as outlined by the NLRB. The company must now provide evidence of their accusations and then an NLRB representative will determine if a hearing is required to determine if the election will stand.

Spectrum News 1 has reached out to Trader Joe’s and its legal team for a response.

Connor Hovey, an employee and organizer with Trader Joe’s, says workers are asking for better wages, better benefits and health care that is not tied to hours worked. They are also asking for more accountability and uniformity in company policies. 

If the election stands, the Louisville Trader Joe’s will become the third store in the nation chain to unionize, and the first one to do so in the south.  


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