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The campaign to unionize Trader Joe’s just scored another victory

workers in another Trader Joe grocery store formed a union this week, making it the fourth of the company’s locations to organize in the past year.

The union, Trader Joe’s United, said it won an election at the company’s Rockridge store in Oakland, California, following a recount by the National Labor Relations Board, in which workers voted 73-53 in favor. to unionize.

On the opposite coast, the union said it narrowly lost an election in the company’s Essex Crossing store in New York City that ended in a tie, 76 for and 76 against. A union must obtain 50% of the votes, plus one, to become a representative of the workers.

The NLRB could not immediately confirm the count of the ballots Friday morning, and Trader Joe’s could not be reached for comment. The company would have a week to dispute the results in Oakland.

If those results hold up, there would now be four total stores that have unionized. since last july, including locations in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Trader Joe’s has challenged the results of the Kentucky vote, but the labor board has yet to issue a decision in the case.

The California-based company has more than 500 stores in the U.S. Although unions are common among longtime grocery stores like Kroger and Albertsons, none of Trader Joe’s stores had union representation until the campaign began. Trader Joe’s United in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Trader Joe’s United, which is not affiliated with an established national union, celebrated Oakland’s victory on Twitter Thursday night. in a statement On the Essex Crossing results, the organizing committee said that “the fight to unionize a NYC Trader Joe’s continues,” pointing to a separate union loss last year at a store in Brooklyn.

“We had endless conversations with our coworkers. We sent countless text messages and phone calls, and came together to celebrate and connect about the future we wanted to see at work,” the group said. “But the reality is that the barriers for workers to win against corporations in this country are enormous.”

Organizing efforts have seeped into Trader Joe’s for years, but none of them took hold until early 2022, after the company announced it was cutting retirement contributions for most employees. Several workers told HuffPost that the move reflected a company that had become less generous to its workforce and strayed from its reputation as a good employer.

Trader Joe’s managed to stay union free until the Massachusetts election last year.

John Greim via Getty Images

Pro-union employees are pushing for higher wages, guaranteed benefits and more control over scheduling and security protocols.

Trader Joe’s has opposite the organizing effort, with the union saying managers at the New York and Oakland stores had been encouraging workers to vote “no” in the run-up to their election.

The union has filed a series of unfair labor practice charges accusing the company of violating workers’ rights, including by pressuring union workers to remove their union badges. Trader Joe’s has accused union supporters of illegally pressuring workers to vote for the union in Kentucky. The labor board has not yet ruled on those cases.

HuffPost reported last summer that workers at Trader Joe’s wine store in New York City were about to go public with a union campaign when the company abruptly closed the store. The workers intended to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Trader Joe’s denied closing the store due to worker organizing.

The company previously told HuffPost it was “concerned” about the “rigid legal relationship” a union could bring, but said it would abide by the results of any election and bargain in good faith with its workers.

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