Trader Joe Store Unionizes

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storewanderer
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by storewanderer »

veteran+ wrote: August 4th, 2022, 6:28 am Union busting history by corporations and conservative government administrations would disagree with you.

No one would argue about historical Union malfeseance. But, the decades long campaign to destroy Labor Unions has been well documented.

Not everyone can afford a lawyer (not many do pro bono or "zero down"). Many cases are also too small (but still destructive) to attract a lawyer. For most, this is not the best way forward.

A more powerful third voice is a STRONG State Labor Commissioner and/or Labor Union. Unions DO look at favoritism issues and interactive issues between management and clerks.

I am glad you area of Trader Joes has good spirits. Every store and every region can unique. My point was that the often promulgated "best place to work" is often not accurate and more often manipulated for P.R. purposes.
I fail to be as enthusiastic for the union to do this stuff as you are. They have really screwed people over. From the losses of manufacturing jobs over many decades under the watch of the unions, combined with more recently the "multiple tier" pay structures in the grocery unions, and the lousy contracts I've seen the grocery union approve in a number of regions in the past couple of years, I think the unions are not doing a good job for the employee at all. They are collecting dues, I could make the argument they are protecting the older employees (many of whom seem miserable and bitter toward the corporation/management) wages/benefits at the very least, but not really doing anything for the young employees and have basically fallen into a complacent position where they are in bed with the corporation, do not really do anything to help the newer employees, but do collect dues from them.

The only real thing the union brings to the table is a strong benefit package and a transparent wage structure. Those are important things, but you don't need a union to make that stuff happen. The right management can make that happen too. The problem is in many cases the management and ownership turns over and all it takes is one bad group of management to screw over 20 years worth of efforts by prior management teams to take care of their employees. So to that point I do like the idea of the benefits fund pay in to the union so that is dealt with as promised and is a stable benefit offer to employees as long as the employees opt to work for the company. That, I think is a huge selling point. That is also something worth the union dues.

This other stuff about "better working conditions" - the union isn't going to do anything. This is hard work, these jobs are not easy, they never will be. If they are easy it means they get automated, that will be easy, the only employee will be a salaried manager and a contracted tech to fix the robotic machinery.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by HCal »

storewanderer wrote: August 2nd, 2022, 12:31 am Pretty useless union vote. It isn't even aligned with UFCW. One of the biggest selling points of grocery being unionized is access to UFCW's programs for benefits. Without that, I fail to see what this union is even bringing to the table.

I also suspect the wages here are already higher than other unionized grocers in the area. So I am sure the company is indeed "eager" to go ahead and follow other unionized grocers for a template.

I have to wonder why they didn't bring in UFCW.
I think UFCW is unpopular right now. Kroger employees don't seem to be huge fans. An independent union might be able to provide a fresh start without the baggage.

About a decade ago, Trader Joe's was considered a model employer in the retail sector, right up there with Costco and Nordstrom. The fact that their employees are now starting to unionize is not a good sign. I wonder if management made some big changes to trigger this. The Aldi family is very secretive and I don't know how much pressure they are putting on management to improve profits.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by mjhale »

storewanderer wrote: August 5th, 2022, 12:22 am This other stuff about "better working conditions" - the union isn't going to do anything. This is hard work, these jobs are not easy, they never will be. If they are easy it means they get automated, that will be easy, the only employee will be a salaried manager and a contracted tech to fix the robotic machinery.
And this has been going on in major grocery stores for a while now despite union representation. Maybe not robotics but the level of skilled labor in stores has been reduced over the years. Self-checkout, prepacked meat from a central butcher facility, thaw and stock bakery products being some examples. Gone are the fleet of cashiers, the in-house butcher and also the baker. Now these jobs are covered by the customer in the case of self-checkout or lower paid employees who are simply stocking shelves instead of performing a specialized job that requires specific training. The customer doesn't necessarily notice this outside self-checkout as long as product is on the shelves. One could argue that people actually like self-checkout and don't always see it as a negative.

I don't think any industry can escape automation. Looking a Trader Joe's specifically, they are the only grocery store in my area that does not have any self-checkout, has a lot of staff in stores and seems to have staff continually going through produce, fresh meat/poultry and the general grocery aisles to make sure things are stocked and rotated. Comparing Trader Joe's to Aldi, it seems an incompatible model. Aldi being all about efficiency, bare bones staffing and extreme multitasking to drive down prices. Trader Joes doesn't fit that model at all. I'd like to know the specific complaints that the Trader Joe's employees have and whether they are related to slimming down staffing and going towards an efficiency model like Aldi employs. I've never been a big Aldi shopper. However, between prices inching up at Aldi to be similar to Walmart and employees who look like they have been dragged through the wringer I have cut back my shopping there. Walmart is no angel. However they seem to be mostly to fully stocked much more consistently. I'm curious to see if the union moves at Trader Joe's filter over to Aldi itself. Certainly Aldi employees could have the same complaints if things are in fact related to the impact of very slim staffing, increasing work loads, etc. At least Aldi is paying $17-$20/hour in my area. I'd expect Trader Joe's is similar as well.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by veteran+ »

storewanderer wrote: August 5th, 2022, 12:22 am
veteran+ wrote: August 4th, 2022, 6:28 am Union busting history by corporations and conservative government administrations would disagree with you.

No one would argue about historical Union malfeseance. But, the decades long campaign to destroy Labor Unions has been well documented.

Not everyone can afford a lawyer (not many do pro bono or "zero down"). Many cases are also too small (but still destructive) to attract a lawyer. For most, this is not the best way forward.

A more powerful third voice is a STRONG State Labor Commissioner and/or Labor Union. Unions DO look at favoritism issues and interactive issues between management and clerks.

I am glad you area of Trader Joes has good spirits. Every store and every region can unique. My point was that the often promulgated "best place to work" is often not accurate and more often manipulated for P.R. purposes.
I fail to be as enthusiastic for the union to do this stuff as you are. They have really screwed people over. From the losses of manufacturing jobs over many decades under the watch of the unions, combined with more recently the "multiple tier" pay structures in the grocery unions, and the lousy contracts I've seen the grocery union approve in a number of regions in the past couple of years, I think the unions are not doing a good job for the employee at all. They are collecting dues, I could make the argument they are protecting the older employees (many of whom seem miserable and bitter toward the corporation/management) wages/benefits at the very least, but not really doing anything for the young employees and have basically fallen into a complacent position where they are in bed with the corporation, do not really do anything to help the newer employees, but do collect dues from them.

The only real thing the union brings to the table is a strong benefit package and a transparent wage structure. Those are important things, but you don't need a union to make that stuff happen. The right management can make that happen too. The problem is in many cases the management and ownership turns over and all it takes is one bad group of management to screw over 20 years worth of efforts by prior management teams to take care of their employees. So to that point I do like the idea of the benefits fund pay in to the union so that is dealt with as promised and is a stable benefit offer to employees as long as the employees opt to work for the company. That, I think is a huge selling point. That is also something worth the union dues.

This other stuff about "better working conditions" - the union isn't going to do anything. This is hard work, these jobs are not easy, they never will be. If they are easy it means they get automated, that will be easy, the only employee will be a salaried manager and a contracted tech to fix the robotic machinery.
History is clear that Unions did MORE good than bad by any measurement (health insurance, 8hr work day, paid vacation, et al).

"The right management"? Temporal and fleeting and inconsistent. Top tier profit always prevails.

Bettter a flawed voice for the lowly employee than no voice at all.

Also, it is not that I am enthusiastic about Unions, it's that I do not trust that Companies have their employees' (nor even their customers') best interest in mind. Their exclusive interest is more often about profit. So, I fail to be as enthusiastic for companies to do this stuff as you are. It is NOT their "raison d'etre".
Last edited by veteran+ on August 5th, 2022, 6:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by veteran+ »

HCal wrote: August 5th, 2022, 1:07 am
storewanderer wrote: August 2nd, 2022, 12:31 am Pretty useless union vote. It isn't even aligned with UFCW. One of the biggest selling points of grocery being unionized is access to UFCW's programs for benefits. Without that, I fail to see what this union is even bringing to the table.

I also suspect the wages here are already higher than other unionized grocers in the area. So I am sure the company is indeed "eager" to go ahead and follow other unionized grocers for a template.

I have to wonder why they didn't bring in UFCW.
I think UFCW is unpopular right now. Kroger employees don't seem to be huge fans. An independent union might be able to provide a fresh start without the baggage.

About a decade ago, Trader Joe's was considered a model employer in the retail sector, right up there with Costco and Nordstrom. The fact that their employees are now starting to unionize is not a good sign. I wonder if management made some big changes to trigger this. The Aldi family is very secretive and I don't know how much pressure they are putting on management to improve profits.
Exactly my point about companies and their "best place to work" status. Even Publix has been taken down some notches.

Those internal and external surveys are often compromised and not always accurate. Also things change and what may have been good in the past is no longer.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by jamcool »

Ask Ford, GM, and Chrysler how unions worked for them. Or the Rock Island Railroad.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by veteran+ »

Any corp is not going to have anything good to say about a Union.

And all employees are never going to be 100% happy with a Union.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by mjhale »

veteran+ wrote: August 5th, 2022, 11:38 am Any corp is not going to have anything good to say about a Union.

And all employees are never going to be 100% happy with a Union.
This is exactly the point - nothing is perfect. However, reading some of these articles about the motivation to unionize, a lot of these employees think the union is going to be the be all and end all to solve all of their problems. As I've said elsewhere, American business is out to benefit stockholders and investors at the end of he day. If a union gives more voice to the employees then good for them. But if these employees don't get exactly what they want because, say something like pay is already at the high end of the scale for the area, you are going to have upset people saying hey union you put yourself out there as the solver of all problems, you failed us, now what? At some point in time one has to judge if their current situation is going to change enough to meet their needs. If the promise is there then stay around and fight for it. But if the promise dims or goes out, one has to decide if it is worth sticking around any longer, union or not.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by storewanderer »

veteran+ wrote: August 5th, 2022, 6:30 am

History is clear that Unions did MORE good than bad by any measurement (health insurance, 8hr work day, paid vacation, et al).

"The right management"? Temporal and fleeting and inconsistent. Top tier profit always prevails.

Bettter a flawed voice for the lowly employee than no voice at all.

Also, it is not that I am enthusiastic about Unions, it's that I do not trust that Companies have their employees' (nor even their customers') best interest in mind. Their exclusive interest is more often about profit. So, I fail to be as enthusiastic for companies to do this stuff as you are. It is NOT their "raison d'etre".
We will see how this goes. I think these employees voting in these unions think somehow they are going to end up getting more money, for less work. Or somehow the union is going to protect them from being told to go clean out the bathroom or go work in the freezer. That isn't how it is going to work.

The problem with management often times is like I said- the management works at the company for less time than the employees. The employees are more vested in the company than the management is...

Things like health insurance (not entirely sure it is such a great thing that is tied to employment anyway but that is way off topic here), the 8 hour work day, and paid vacation are all great and we can absolutely credit the unions of old with that. But I am not so sure these new unions have the same interests in mind as the old unions did. I get the feeling these new unions tend to be more like activist groups pushing agendas and politics that do not really help the employee directly (could argue some of it could help the employee indirectly) under the guise of vaguely pushing for "better working conditions."

So how do you make "better working conditions" at Trader Joe's? Do you assign each employee to a specific department/task (vs. the current team model there where employees can be assigned to basically any task in the store) then let their coworkers start filing grievances when one of the 8 people stocking shelves gets called up to run a register because the lines back up, and it isn't "their job" to run a register? Do you start only making people work a 6 hour shift instead of 8 hour shifts? Do you install chairs at the cash register (won't be able to get the carts around the register if you do that)? I guess I am genuinely curious what these issues with "working conditions" are at Trader Joe's. Like, what are the specific issues?

You know, back to the old union achievements again, the 8 hour work day was a real achievement. The old 12 hour or 16 hour or whatever work day was unreasonable, unproductive, and unhealthy. It was no good for anyone involved. What is an issue in the current workplace that is so bad that, if improved, it would benefit all parties involved? I'd say employee retention and turnover, but those are serious problems even in unionized workplaces at the present time, so the unions do not seem to have some magic to help with employee retention and turnover vs. other non union businesses at the present time.
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Re: Trader Joe Store Unionizes

Post by TW-Upstate NY »

One of the most overlooked benefits of Union membership (at least from my point of view) is protection against arbitrary dismissal/termination. In most workplaces, they can just let you go for no reason. You get a new boss and they don't like you they can show you the door and there isn't a thing you can do about it. Can't do that in a Unionized work environment. Now before anyone makes the argument that protects even the lousy employees let me say that yes you take the bad with the good but overall it helps everybody and lets them speak their minds. And I ought to know because I benefited from this myself when a supervisor was absolutely verbally pummeling a co-worker and I not so politely told her to knock it off. Just because of that, she wanted my head on a platter and made absolutely wild unfounded accusations to further her case against me. I had several co-workers who came forward to back up my story. None of that would've happened if not for the Union having my back and the backs of my co-workers who weren't afraid to speak up. This supervisor had a long history of being verbally abusive and because of this incident the Union was able to put the pressure on upper management to remove her from our office; she never supervised City Letter Carriers again. I kept my job and eventually retired from there a little over four years ago. Upon retirement, we're also allowed to retain our Union membership which I did so these days just call me a damned proud retired member of the NALC.
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