retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The New York Times reports that "a federal labor official who presided over Amazon’s challenge to a union victory at a Staten Island warehouse has recommended that the challenge be rejected, the National Labor Relations Board said on Thursday.

"The labor board official, known as a hearing officer, concluded in a report that Amazon’s objections to the election should be set aside and that the Amazon Labor Union should be certified to represent workers at the warehouse, known as JFK8.

"A regional director of the labor board will issue a formal ruling in the coming weeks or months after considering the hearing officer’s report. Regional directors typically follow a hearing officer’s recommendation in such cases, but Amazon could still appeal to the labor board in Washington if the regional director’s ruling affirms the election result."



•  Fast Company writes that when Trader Joe's closed down its only (and, from all reports, very popular) wine shop in New York City with five years left on its lease, it may have been because a majority of the workers there were prepared to unionize.

According to the story, Trader Joe's employees there "spent the past four months building support to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union."  But, the very week that workers intended to "gather up the completed union cards … then submit their petition for a union election to the National Labor Relations Board … Trader Joe’s sent a memo informing store team members it was 'time for us to explore another location' at which to use the company’s sole New York State license to sell wine.

"Because wine can’t be sold in a grocery store in the state, Trader Joe’s decided 15 years ago to open a dedicated wine shop adjacent to one of its busiest grocery locations near Manhattan’s Union Square. In fact, the store was named Trader Joe’s Union  Square Wine Shop (rather ironic, in retrospect)."

The UFCW,  Fast Company writes, has "declared the move 'egregious and blatant union busting.'  The shop’s organizing committee claims Trader Joe’s management confirms no new location is lined up yet, nor is there any time line to reopen, 'leaving many of us unsure of whether or not we have a job.'  The UFCW added in its statement that it’s 'ready to pursue all legal action, including filing charges against Trader Joe’s' and warned it will 'aggressively pursue all legal recourse available' if the company “retaliates further against workers involved in organizing efforts."

Ironically, last month when employees at a Western Massachusetts Trader Joe's filed for a union election - the first in the company's history, a company spokesperson said, "We have always said we welcome a fair vote and are prepared to hold a vote if more than 30 percent of the crew wants one … We are not interested in delaying the process in any way."