TRADER JOE'S CAPITOL HILL CLOSED INDEFINITELY:
WORKERS FACE POTENTIAL JOB LOSS AFTER PARTICIPATING IN BLM PROTEST
On June 11, dozens of Trader Joe's Capitol Hill (Store #130 in Seattle) workers informed store management that they would be participating in the June 12 protest organized by the local chapter of Black Lives Matter. Store managers determined that broad participation in the protest would lead to staffing issues, and decided to close the store early on June 12. Store management assured workers participating in the protest that this would be considered an excused absence and would not result in any disciplinary measures. But on the morning of June 12, a representative from TJs corporate called the store to ask about the early closure. Unsatisfied with the rationale for the early closure, corporate informed store management that the store would be closed indefinitely, effective immediately.
We, a group of Store #130 workers who wish to remain anonymous, believe it's no coincidence that the store was abruptly closed on the day that dozens of us took action in support of the movement for Black lives. We know that the company will try to avoid the appearance of being antagonistic to the movement. They will likely cite "personnel issues," “safety concerns,” or operating costs as rationale for the store closure. What they really mean when they cite "personnel issues" is that they saw our store as a hot spot for worker organizing. TJs corporate has aggressively squashed worker organizing for years and has a long record of retaliation. This is the most dramatic retaliation any TJs store has seen to date, but it is not an isolated incident. Prior to the abrupt store closure, we had been organizing to secure a living wage, health insurance for all workers, and basic protections against COVID-19. The large majority of us were already living paycheck to paycheck, and many of us were working without health insurance while risking steady exposure to the public in the midst of a pandemic.
While Trader Joe’s has publicly voiced support for “Black crew members and customers,” the company has done nothing to tangibly support the movement for Black lives, and they have penalized employees for supporting the movement. While the company insists that they value crew member feedback and support crew-led solutions, they have consistently disregarded our insights and requests. We know what it would take for the store to run smoothly, and we want to be in conversation with store management about solutions.
We are saddened by the store closure. For each of us, it means both a loss of community and a loss of financial security in the midst of an economic downturn. We recognize it’s a loss for our neighborhood as well, and we hope you will join us in demanding that Trader Joe’s reopen Store #130 and restore our jobs immediately. We’ve heard that TJs corporate will make a final decision about the closure this coming Monday. We’ll be prepared with a response regardless of the decision.