Employees at a Trader Joe’s in Williamsburg decided not to unionize, rejecting the chance to join Trader Joe’s United, a newly-formed union behind the successful organizing campaigns at two other locations.
Of 185 eligible voters, 160 cast ballots, with 94 workers voting against the union, and 66 supporting it, according to a spokesperson for the the National Labor Relations Board which tallied the votes Thursday evening.
“Workers in Williamsburg fought bravely toward a union election today; unfortunately the no votes carried the day,” the union tweeted, following the vote tally. “The struggle to organize Trader Joe’s continues.”
Representatives of the union didn’t return a request for further comment right away.
Nakia Rohde, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, said the company was proud of its employees.
“We will continue speaking directly with Crew about what is important to them, and to all of us as a company,” she said in an emailed statement. “We are grateful that our Crew Members trust us to continue to do the work of listening and responding to their needs, as we always have.”
Rumblings of union activity at various Trader Joe’s locations date back several years, and were catapulted to the fore during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside concerns about the spread of the virus and workplace safety.
In the Williamsburg drive, workers were advocating for higher pay and more sick leave. Starting salaries at Trader Joe’s locations in New York City are between $18 and $20 an hour.
Organizers said they faced opposition from the company, owned by German billionaire Theo Albrecht Jr., during the course of the union campaign. One of the lead union activists was fired a day after the company told them they knew the union drive was coming, organizers said. At the company’s popular 14th Street wine store, Trader Joe’s used another tactic — shutting the store down ahead of an expected union drive there.
The Williamsburg store would have been the first unionized Trader Joe’s of in New York City’s of 14 locations, if workers had voted differently. There are only two unionized stores nationwide; one in Hadley, Massachusetts and a second Minneapolis, Minnesota, both of which opted to join Trader Joe’s United over the summer.