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Union Setback: Home Depot Workers Reject Union

In a surprising setback to the unionizing trend sweeping the country, workers at a Philadelphia-area Home Depot soundly rejected the Home Depot Workers United union by a vote of 165-51.  This first ever store-wide union election covered 274 Home Depot employees.  The unionizing push at this location was spurred by employees’ discontent with compensation, working conditions, under staffing, and insufficient job training.

This defeat bucks the current trend at other large chain retailers which saw the first union victories at their stores during the past year, included in this group are Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Apple, Chipotle, and Amazon.

Unionizing leaders at the store have already filed a complaint with the NLRB accusing store managers of inappropriate surveillance and interrogation tactics.  Home Depot has denied all of these allegations. Beyond these allegations, both sides have five days to file any other objections to the election.

Key Take-Away

What’s notable about this union drive is union leaders have explained they did not rely heavily on traditional in-person union meetings to garner support for this election. Rather, supporters spread the word through TikTok videos, group text messaging, and a systematic e-mail campaign.  This is surprising and causes us to contemplate several interrelated questions:

  • Did the effort fail miserably because the union tried something new, which did not resonate with this type of employee? Will the results cause the union to return to more tried and true organizing measures in the future?
  • Are TikTok videos, Snapchats, text alerts and the like the future of union campaigns? If so, it may become much harder for employers to learn of a campaign, especially in its early stages.
  • Is it possible a digital campaign such as this will work at some retailers/businesses and fail at others? Think of your workforce; are they digitally savvy or are they more traditional?  How might that impact a union drive at your business?

Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on all labor management issues, including union-related matters, and provides union-free training. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.