Unionization is having a moment, but reaching initial contract agreements is proving challenging

Published: 10 January 2024

In 2022, employees at a Trader Joe’s grocery store in Massachusetts successfully voted to unionize. However, almost two years later, the company has yet to present any contract proposals. Despite the company's initial dismissal of a $30-an-hour wage proposal, they failed to provide a counter-offer, contributing to a broader trend of extended negotiations for new unions' inaugural contracts. In an interview with The New Republic, John-Paul Ferguson, Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour and MBA Academic Director, highlights this phenomenon, noting that many companies, now led by a new generation of managers unfamiliar with collective bargaining, face challenges in navigating this process. Moreover, management-side law firms are identified as intentionally prolonging the negotiation process to maintain the existing status quo. This issue extends beyond Trader Joe's, affecting newly-formed unions at Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and REI. The prolonged struggle to secure initial contracts prompts a closer examination of evolving labour relations dynamics.

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