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Philadelphia Home Depot Workers Vote to Reject Unionization

Philadelphia Home Depot Workers Vote to Reject Unionization
Shopping carts are parked outside a Home Depot in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022. Home Depot workers in Philadelphia have filed a petition with the federal labor board to form what could be the first store-wide union at the world's largest home improvement retailer. (AP)

Sunday, 06 November 2022 06:49 AM EST

Home Depot workers in Philadelphia rejected the first store-wide labor union at the world's largest home improvement retailer Saturday night, a loss for a fledgling movement to organize at major U.S. companies.

Workers voted 165 to 51 against forming a union representing 274 employees at the store, WHYY-FM reported.

The National Labor Relations Board oversaw the voting. A board spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for information about the vote.

The defeat for the organizers, who sought to join Home Depot Workers United, could discourage activist workers who have successfully formed the first unions at big chains, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Apple, but have since suffered setbacks in getting collective bargaining off the ground or organizing more unions.

The Atlanta-based company employs about 500,000 people at its 2,316 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Vincent Quiles, the Home Depot employee leading the unionization effort, told WHYY that the attempt to organize workers had been a “tall order.”

“I knew when I filed this petition we’d be taking on a $300 billion company," Quiles said after the vote. "It wouldn’t be an easy fight to have. But you do these things because you believe them to be right.”

Quiles previously said worker discontent with working conditions, understaffing and lack of training are among the grievances that spurred the effort to organize. He also said workers are upset they have not shared more in the record profits Home Depot saw during the coronavirus pandemic.

Home Depot firmly opposes unionization, saying it has an open door policy allowing employees to bring concerns directly to managers.

After the failed union vote, Home Depot spokesperson Margaret Smith told WHYY, “We’re happy that the associates at this store voted to continue working directly with the company. That connection is important to our culture, and we will continue listening to our associates and making The Home Depot a great place to work and grow.”

Quiles filed a complaint of unfair labor practices with the NRLB, alleging managers engaged in inappropriate surveillance and interrogation tactics against union supporters. Quiles said managers followed him around the stores and tried to disrupt any conversations he tried to have with co-workers, even if it wasn't about the union.

Instead, Quiles said he relied on TikTok videos, group text messaging and e-mailing to campaign for the union. Although more than 100 workers signed the petition demanding the election, Quiles said he was never able to persuade any co-workers to join him in speaking out publicly.

Home Depot is cooperating with the investigation into the complaint and “is confident we haven’t committed the alleged violations,” company spokeswoman Sara Gorman said.

Fierce legal fights have characterized organization efforts at other companies.

Amazon has filed more than two dozen objections in an attempt to undo the Amazon Labor Union's surprise election victory at a Staten Island warehouse last spring, the group's only successful attempt so far to form a union. The ALU, meanwhile, has filed more than two dozen charges with the National Labor Relations Board accusing Amazon of unfair labor practices that damaged its ability to organize.

Starbucks is negotiating contracts at a handful of the more than 250 stores where workers have voted to unionize, but the company has asked the NLRB to temporarily halt other elections because of alleged misconduct.

The labor relations board has filed a complaint against Chipotle alleging the restaurant chain unlawfully closed a store in Augusta, Maine, and fired its workers for union activity.

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Newsfront
Home Depot workers in Philadelphia rejected the first store-wide labor union at the world's largest home improvement retailer Saturday night, a loss for a fledgling movement to organize at major U.S. companies.Workers voted 165 to 51 against forming a union representing 274...
US, Home Depot, Labor Union
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2022-49-06
Sunday, 06 November 2022 06:49 AM
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