The campaign to organize Trader Joe’s has just won another victory.

Workers at another Trader Joe’s branch formed a union this week. This makes it the fourth branch of the company to unionize in the past year.

The Trader Joe’s United union announced that it won the election at the company’s Rockridge branch in Oakland, California, following a vote count conducted by the National Labour Relations Board, with workers voting 73 to 53 to form a union.

On the opposite coast, the union announced that it had narrowly lost an election at the company’s Essex Crossing branch in New York City, which ended in a tie with 76 votes in favor and 76 against. A union must win 50% of the vote plus one to represent workers.

The NLRB could not immediately confirm the election results Friday morning, and Trader Joe’s could not be reached for comment. The company would have one week to challenge the results in Oakland.

If those results stand, there would now be a total of four shops that have been unionized since last July, including locations in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Kentucky. Trader Joe’s has challenged the outcome of the Kentucky vote, but the Labour Board has not yet made a decision in the case.

The California-based company has more than 500 shops in the US. Although unions are common at longstanding grocers like Kroger and Albertsons, none of the Trader Joe’s shops had union representation until the Trader Joe’s United campaign began in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Trader Joe’s United, which is not affiliated with an established national union, celebrated the Oakland victory on Twitter late Thursday. In a statement on the results in Essex Crossing, the organizing committee there said that “the fight to unionize Trader Joe’s in New York City continues,” referring to a separate union defeat last year at a Brooklyn branch.

“We had endless conversations with our employees. We sent countless text messages and phone calls and came together to celebrate and talk about the future we want for our work,” the group said. “But the reality is that the hurdles for working people to win against the corporations in this country are enormous.

Organizing efforts have been underway at Trader Joe’s for years, but none of them took hold until early 2022, after the company announced it would cut pension contributions for most workers. Several workers told HuffPost that the move was a sign that the company was no longer being so generous with its workforce and was deviating from its reputation as a good employer.

Trader Joe’s was able to remain union-free until the Massachusetts elections last year.Pro-union workers are demanding higher wages, guaranteed benefits and more control over work scheduling and safety protocols.

Trader Joe’s has resisted organizing efforts, and according to the union, managers at both the New York and Oakland branches encouraged workers to vote “no” in the run-up to the election.

The union has filed a series of unfair labor practice charges accusing the company of violating workers’ rights, including by pressuring pro-union workers to remove their union pins. Trader Joe’s accuses union supporters of unlawfully pressuring Kentucky workers to vote for the union. The Labour Department has not yet ruled on these cases.

The HuffPost reported last summer that workers at the Trader Joe’s wine shop in New York City were on the verge of launching a union campaign when the company abruptly closed the shop. The workers intended to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Trader Joe’s denied that the closure of the shop was due to the workers’ organizing.

The company had previously told HuffPost it was “concerned” about the “rigid legal relationship” a union might bring but would abide by the results of the election and negotiate in good faith with its workers.

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