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Workers unionize at Louisville Trader Joe’s

012623_Trader Joe's exterior_by Jacob Munoz
Jacob Munoz
Workers at the Trader Joe's in the Shelbyville Road Plaza voted in favor of unionizing this week.

Full-time and part-time employees at Louisville’s Trader Joe’s have formed the company’s third-ever union.

Workers at the store in Shelbyville Road Plaza voted 48-36 in favor of unionizing with Trader Joe’s United, a group unaffiliated with major national unions. The result was announced by organizing workers on Thursday night following two days of voting in the company’s wine storage room next to its grocery.

Employees publicly announced their organizing campaign in December. Connor Hovey, a store worker pushing to unionize, added that the effort took eight months. He said it started as staff at a Trader Joe’s in Hadley, Massachusetts announced their goal of becoming the company’s first union, which it later achieved last summer.

Hovey added that the campaign received pushback from the company, referencing anti-union messages he said were posted in the store’s break room.

He shared with LPM News photos of the alleged messages that promoted to workers “things that we’ve done together, without a union” and claimed the organizers were ignoring employees who didn’t want to unionize.

“There was a lot of checking in, a lot of talking to folks and making sure that they understood that what the company was posting and saying was either untrue or grossly misrepresented,” Hovey said.

012623_Trader Joe's Union Electing Voting_by Jacob Munoz
Jacob Munoz
Notices of the Louisville Trader Joe's worker union election were displayed on the doors leading into a company facility on January 26.

Trader Joe’s did not respond to a request for comment about the election result or the alleged messages.

Hovey said while the organizing group looks to advocate for changes like improved wages and benefits, it would also reach out to other staff to include their voices during negotiations with the company.

Morgan Gillenwater, another store employee, said the unionized workers are looking to send a message to Trader Joe’s.

“We're really wanting to just put the pressure on and show the company that this is a movement and they can't stop it. It is going to continue to happen, and we're going to continue to try to better employment for ourselves and other crew members across the country,” Gillenwater said.

Workers at Trader Joe’s are among several employee groups across Louisville that have decided to form unions over the past year. Those include staff at the national chains Starbucks and Half Price Books and local shops such as Heine Brothers Coffee and Pizza Lupo.

Two weeks ago, workers at a Starbucks in the Highlands and at all five Sunergos Coffee shops voted to unionize.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.