Source: Trader Joe’s Union Square wine store closed to prevent filing of union petition

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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | After Trader Joe’s Wine Shop near Union Square closed, a Trader Joe source told the Village Sun exactly how the exit from the popular store ended – and charged it was a union busting move.

Thanks to a tip from reader Gail Fox, this newspaper was among the first to report the sudden closure of the wine store. The employee, in turn, posted a reader comment on the article, saying that TJ wanted to nip the workers’ organizing effort in the bud. The Village Sun contacted him for more details and he responded promptly the next day. However, unfortunately, due to an e-mail technical problem, the newspaper did not receive their response until a week later.

It was not immediately clear in what capacity the employee worked for Trader Joe’s or where he was. However, he described a detailed version of events.

Furthermore, he tellingly placed the incident in the larger context of a wave of organizing efforts currently rocking Trader Joe’s vast empire.

Below is his response in full. The employee requested anonymity as he still works for the national chain store:

“Employees were actively collecting signatures to file a petition for a union election. With a relatively small staff and only 30% needed to drop off, this was a foregone conclusion. Once a site has officially started the process of seeking a union vote – in this case, filed a petition with the NLRB [National Labor Relations Board] – It is against federal law for the company to close this location to prevent union activity at other locations. Since Trader Joe’s just had its first store unionize last month, a second store is voting today [Aug. 12] and a third scheduling their vote, they decided to shut down the store altogether by email at 12:01 a.m. to avoid any chance a petition could be filed. Probably on the advice of their anti-union law firm, they realized they could use this as an opportunity to legally threaten any store considering unionization by preemptively closing the store and firing all employees. . (Note that the current [wine shop] staff only have the opportunity to meet and discuss a transfer [to another TJ’s store] — employment not guaranteed). Given the current staff shortages at all NYC locations, we know this is code for termination for any pro-union employee. As I am a current employee, I would prefer to remain anonymous. I will try to arrange for a member of staff to contact you directly.

In accordance with a New York State law that limits corporations to having only one liquor store, this was TJ’s only liquor outlet in the state.

Along those lines, signs posted on the doors of the store the day after it closed said TJ’s wanted to “maximize the potential” of its only New York State wine and liquor license by finding the best store location. possible. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a busier shopping spot — both convenient for local shoppers and close to one of the city’s major transit hubs — than Union Square.

Meanwhile, Trader Joe’s stuck to its “maximize our license” line following the closure of the oenophile’s mecca.

“Trader Joe’s respects our crew’s right to support a union – or not,” a spokesperson said. told Gothamist. “Our decision to close the Union Square Wine Store is the result of a long-term review of how best to optimize our one and only license to sell wine in New York State and best meet the needs of our grocery customers in the neighborhood.”

The wine shop space and neighboring Trader Joe’s Market are located on the ground floor of Palladium Hall at New York University, the city of the former Palladium nightclub and concert venue. Following the closure of the liquor store, the words “WINE SHOP” were removed from its exterior signage. TJ’s reportedly intends to use the space to support the adjacent market.

In a statement to the media, NYU spokesman John Beckman said, “There have been no changes to NYU’s lease with Trader Joe’s, and it still has several years to run. Closing the wine store is a decision Trader Joe’s made independently and internally.

Asked by The Village Sun whether the NYU administration is concerned that the seemingly union-busting closure “would reflect badly on the university,” Beckman reiterated that NYU had nothing to do with the store closing.

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