Trader Joe’s Workers Vote to Unionize for the First Time
Workspan Daily
August 05, 2022

Trader Joes workers at a store in Hadley, Mass. recently voted 45-31 to unionize, becoming the first at that company to do so, according to the National Labor Relations Board. 

The Washington Post reported that Trader Joes workers at the Hadley store cited the degradation of their benefits, health and safety concerns related to the pandemic, and pay as the impetus for forming an independent union at their store. Some workers at the store make $16 an hour. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is $14.25 an hour. 

Theres been a really clear trend over the past 10 years of Trader Joes chipping away at our benefits, said Maeg Yosef, a leader of the union drive who has worked at the Hadley store for 18 years. We all see that, and its really obvious to us that the way to protect each other is through a union contract. 

A spokesperson for Trader Joes disputed the workers allegations, adding that the companys salaries, benefits and working conditions remain top notch. 

Trader Joes offers its Crew Members a package of pay, benefits, and working conditions that is among the best in the grocery business. Despite this, employees in our Hadley, Mass., store recently voted to be represented by a union, said Nakia Rohde, a spokesperson for Trader Joes.  

We are prepared to immediately begin discussions with union representatives for the employees at this store to negotiate a contract. 

Since workers in Hadley announced their union drive in May, Trader Joes workers in Minneapolis and Boulder, Colorado, have filed for union elections. The store in Minneapolis will hold its election the second week in August. There are more than 530 Trader Joes locations in the country. 

U.S. Adds 528,000 Jobs in July 

The U.S. added 528,000 new jobs in July and the unemployment rate fell to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest jobs report released by the Labor Department on Friday. 

Hiring was broad-based as businesses created the most new jobs in five months, reported MarketWatch. The number of people working finally returned to February 2020 levels — the last month before the pandemic. 

The unemployment rate, meanwhile, slipped to 3.5% from 3.6%, matching the lowest level since the late 1960s.  

“All the jobs lost during the pandemic have now been regained,” Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Global Investors, told MarketWatch. “But while that is positive news, markets will take today’s number as a timely reminder that there is significantly more Fed hiking still to come.”  

Although some businesses have cut back on hiring or even resorted to layoffs, many companies are still filling open jobs. Most are offering higher pay for new workers or raising wages for current employees to keep them from leaving. 

Some key details from the jobs reported include: Hotels, bars, restaurants and other companies in the hospitality business added 96,000 jobs. Professional businesses created 89,000 jobs, healthcare employment rose by 70,000 and government payrolls increased by 57,000. Manufacturers also added 30,000 jobs while construction firms hired 32,000 people. 

Shopify to Cut 10% of Global Workforce  

E-commerce giant Shopify Inc. recently announced it was cutting roughly 1,000 workers, or 10% of its global workforce 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tobi Lütke, the companys founder and chief executive, told staff in a memo sent last week that the layoffs are necessary as consumers resume old shopping habits and pull back on the online orders that fueled the companys recent growth.  

Lütke said he had expected that surging e-commerce sales growth would last past the COVID-19 pandemics ebb. Its now clear that bet didnt pay off, said Mr. Lütke in the letter, which was reviewed by the Journal. Ultimately, placing this bet was my call to make and I got this wrong. 

The Ottawa-based company will cut jobs in all its divisions, though most of the layoffs will occur in recruiting, support and sales units, said Mr. Lütke. Were also eliminating overspecialized and duplicate roles, as well as some groups that were convenient to have but too far removed from building products, he wrote.  

The job cuts are the first big layoffs the company has announced since Lütke started the company in 2006. Shopify is offering 16 weeks of severance to the laid-off workers, plus one week for every year of service. 

Shopifys workforce has increased from 1,900 in 2016 to roughly 10,000 in 2021, according to the companys filings. The hiring spree was made to help keep up with booming business. E-commerce shopping surged during the pandemic, and many small-business owners created online stores to sell goods and services. 

UK Train Drivers Will Strike on Aug. 13 in Dispute Over Pay 

BBC has reported that train drivers at nine UK rail companies will strike on Aug. 13 in a dispute over pay. They include Avanti West Coast, Cross Country, Arriva Rail London, Great Western, LNER, Greater Anglia, Southeastern, Hull Trains and West Midlands Trains. 

The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (Aslef), the British trade union representing train drivers, said strikes were a last resort but the rising cost of living meant workers had faced a real terms pay cut. 

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, said the union did not want to inconvenience passengers but weve been forced into this position by the companies, who say they have been driven to this by the Tory government. 

With inflation running at north of 10% that means those drivers have had a real terms pay cut over the last three years, he said. We want an increase in line with the cost of living — we want to be able to buy, in 2022, what we could buy in 2021. 

Several rail strikes have already gone ahead this summer and there are more planned, with unions including Aslef and the RMT rejecting deals from train companies and Network Rail.  

The Department for Transport said train drivers were earning just under £60,000 per year, more than twice the UK average and significantly more than the very workers who will be most impacted by these strikes. 

Its incredibly disappointing Aslef bosses have announced more destructive strike action, particularly when it has become clear they have no interest in holding constructive talks with the industry, a statement said. 

Family Dollar Faces $1.2 Million in Fines for Workplace Safety Violations 

As reported by Business Insider, two Family Dollar stores in Ohio have been fined $1.2 million for safety violations and hazardous working conditions in their stores.  

The Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the penalties on Monday. According to the announcement, since 2017, the U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state OSHA programs have conducted more than 500 inspections at Family Dollar and Dollar Treeoperated by their parent company, Dollar Tree Inc. and found more than 300 violations. During these inspections, OSHA routinely find exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical panels dangerously obstructed or blocked; unsafe walking-working surfaces; and unstable stacks of merchandise. 

The stores that have been fined are located in Maple Heights and Columbus. They were found to have hazardous conditions such as unsafe stacks of goods, blocked exits, and inaccessible fire extinguishers, according to OSHA. 

The federal regulators accused Family Dollar of flagrantly ignoring workplace safety regulations and continuing to expose employees to the risk of injuries. 

Family Dollar has 15 business days to either pay or contest the fines. 

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