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Federal agency OKs Louisville Trader Joe’s union over company’s objections

Angled-upward view of exterior Trader Joe's signage
Jacob Munoz
The only Trader Joe's store in Louisville is in the Shelbyville Road Plaza.

Trader Joe’s workers at the Louisville store are set to be represented by a national union about a year after originally voting to join it. The company alleged the union violated a fair election, but federal regulators disagreed.

National Labor Relations Board regional director Eric Taylor certified Trader Joe’s United as the Louisville workers’ bargaining representative Wednesday. Full- and part-time employees voted last January to unionize the Shelbyville Road Plaza store.

But Trader Joe’s contested the election, arguing to the NLRB that union members and representatives harassed and intimidated workers. The company then filed objections against an agency officer’s recommendation last summer to overrule its complaints.

In this week’s ruling, Taylor sided with the officer’s report and against Trader Joe’s six objections. This makes the Louisville store the fourth location in the country that will use Trader Joe’s United as its bargaining unit.

“I have carefully reviewed the Hearing Officer’s rulings… and find that they are free from prejudicial error,” Taylor wrote.

The company has until the end of the month to file a challenge to the NLRB Board against Taylor’s decision. Trader Joe’s representatives did not respond to a request for comment sent Wednesday.

None of the stores represented by Trader Joe’s United have achieved contracts with the company.

Connor Hovey, who works at Trader Joe’s in Louisville, is the national union’s organizing director.

The company accused him and several others of misconduct, saying they interfered with a free election, but both the officer’s report from last summer and Taylor’s ruling didn’t find those allegations were substantiated.

Hovey, who has denied the allegations, said union support at the store has remained strong a year after the election.

“Now it’s a really exciting time for us to finally, legally get together and come up with some really great proposals that we’ve been discussing for the last year, and bring them to the company in full force,” Hovey said.

Seth Goldstein is an attorney with Julien, Mirer, Singla, and Goldstein, PLLC, which represents Trader Joe’s United. The company also accused him of interference, which he denies. Goldstein said his firm will next look to make changes at the bargaining table.

“We want to be able to negotiate wages that reflect a living wage and an opportunity to work at Trader Joe’s as a career, rather than just as a pit stop,” Goldstein said.

Kayla Blado, an NLRB spokesperson, said in an email that Trader Joe’s was as of Tuesday facing 63 unfair labor practice charges filed to the agency, including 11 involving the Louisville store

On Saturday, a California judge dismissed a company lawsuit against Trader Joe’s United over alleged trademark infringement on union merchandise.

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

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