Home Depot workers call on federal labor board to form first storewide union

NEW YORK (AP) — Workers at The Home Depot in Philadelphia have filed a petition with the Federal Labor Commission to form what could be the first storewide union at the world’s largest home improvement retailer.

The petition, filed with the National Labor Relations Board this week, seeks to form a collective bargaining unit for 274 employees who work in merchandising, specialty and operations. The federal agency’s database shows no further attempts to form a store-wide union at the company, although a group of Home Depot drivers successfully unionized with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2019.

Sara Gorman, spokeswoman for The Home Depot, said the company is aware of the matter and “we look forward to speaking to our associates about their concerns.”

“While we will of course follow the NLRB process, we do not believe unionization is the best course for our associates,” Gorman said in an email.

Vincent Quiles, a store employee leading the petition, said he delivered the petition with 103 worker signatures to the federal labor commission on Tuesday.

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He said dissatisfaction with pay and working conditions had grown as employees felt stretched during the pandemic.

Quiles, who earns $19.25 an hour in front desk service, said he and other workers believe they could have benefited more from record profits made by Home Depot during the pandemic, as demand increased for home improvement projects. He pointed to two bonuses he received last year that totaled less than $400.

Meanwhile, Quiles said his store felt perpetually understaffed and employees were routinely asked to work in other departments with little training, sometimes angering customers when they couldn’t deliver. expertise expected of them.

“I saw company visits. They would say you are doing a great job, you are so essential. You have to walk the boardwalk. You can’t just come here and say a bunch of nice things,” Quiles said. “It’s long, but I think we can do it. It’s just the beginning.”

Atlanta-based Home Depot employs about 500,000 people at its 2,316 stores in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Workers’ discontent has galvanized labor movements at several major companies in the United States in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sparked tensions over sick leave policies, hours, safety and other problems.

In a surprise victory, Amazon workers at a Staten Island warehouse voted to unionize in April, though similar efforts at other warehouses have so far failed. At least 238 US Starbucks stores have voted to unionize in the past year, according to the NLRB. Railway workers last week won key concessions in a tentative deal with rail companies that averted a potentially devastating halt to the country’s freight trains.

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