Philly Home Depot Workers Reject Union In Lopsided Vote
Workers at a Philadelphia Home Depot store on Saturday night overwhelmingly shot down a drive to unionize the location. It would have become the first fully-unionized Home Depot store.
No votes outnumbered yes votes by more than a three-to-one margin. The final tally came in at 165 to 51, according to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which supervised the vote.
“We’re happy that the associates at this store voted to continue working directly with the company," Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith told WHYY. "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.”
The vote was initiated by a September petition that had 106 signatures out of 266 employees at the Roosevelt Boulevard Home Depot in Northeast Philly. Organizers have filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that Home Depot managers interfered with their efforts.
The Philly Home Depot union push is part of a broader union-organizing surge: Over the first half of 2022, 1,411 American workplaces filed union-organizing petitions with the National Labor Relations Board—the highest mark since 2015.
However, the blowout loss is the latest splash of cold water on union activists who've been targeting big-chain retailers across the country with mixed success. Last month, employees at an upstate New York Amazon warehouse killed an Amazon Labor Union (ALU) drive by a 2-to-1 margin.
In April, the ALU scored a headline-making victory, when workers at a Staten Island Amazon processing facility voted to unionize, in a vote where yes votes prevailed 2,654 to 2,131. More than 8,300 were eligible to vote.
Amazon filed an objection to the vote, alleging that the NLRB's Brooklyn office violated labor law by appearing to support the unionization push. In September, the NLRB declared that Amazon "had not met its burden" of establishing that the NLRB had engaged in "objectionable conduct."
The labor skirmishes are getting spicy: Earlier this month, Apple decided to withhold an increase in benefits from employees at its sole unionized store, which is in Towson, Maryland.
Starbucks has fired similar benefit-withholding shots across the bow of unionization forces, triggering NLRB accusations of unlawful practices. The coffee seller has been perhaps the most visible target of successful retail-unionization attempts, with some 250 stores voting to unionize over the past year.
Meanwhile, back in Philly, Politico reports the Home Depot story has a strange-bedfellow angle:
One top Home Depot executive who works on employment practices at the company is Derek Bottoms, the husband of Keisha Lance Bottoms, director of the Office of Public Engagement in the White House and the former Atlanta mayor, Daniel Lippman reports.
The Northeast Philly Home Depot workers clearly saw that unionization has downsides. That's clear on a macro scale too: Since the start of the pandemic, right-to-work states have added 1.3 million jobs, while union-friendly, non-right-to-work states have lost 1.1 million.