Philadelphia Home Depot workers vote to reject unionization

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PHILADELPHIA — 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 in favor of 51 for Home Depot Workers United. This would have represented 274 store employees, according to the National Labor Relations Board which oversaw the vote. The unions and the company have five days to object.

The defeat for the organizers 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-FM that the attempt to organize workers had been a “tall order.”

“It wouldn’t be an easy fight to have,” Quiles said. “But you do these things because you believe them to be right.”

Quiles previously said discontent with compensation, working conditions, understaffing and lack of training are among the grievances that spurred the effort to organize.

A Home Depot spokesperson Margaret Smith said that after the failed union vote, she was happy that associates voted to continue working 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 has filed a complaint of unfair labor practices with the NRLB, alleging managers engaged in inappropriate surveillance and interrogation tactics against union supporters. Quiles claimed that managers followed him around the stores and interrogated him about any conversation he had with co-workers.

Quiles claimed that he used TikTok videos and group text messaging to support the union.

Home Depot denies the allegations.

Organization efforts at other companies have been hampered by fierce legal battles.

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 has filed more than twenty-six charges against Amazon for unfair labor practices.

Starbucks has been negotiating contracts at a few 250 stores in which workers have voted for unionization. However, the company has asked NLRB to temporarily halt any other elections due to alleged misconduct. The labor relations board filed a complaint against Chipotle alleging that the restaurant chain closed a store in Augusta (Maine) and fired workers for union activity.

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