Progressives love to shop at Trader Joe’s — just don’t say that to their workers

When Dominique Bernardo’s colleagues in 2020 expressed support for a social media campaign critical of their company’s response to the Black Lives Matter protests, they were summoned to meetings where they were “grilled” by a regional manager.

Some Seattle employees say they had been retaliated against for participating in the protests, and in Portland, Ore., an employee alleged in a lawsuit that they were fired for criticizing the company.

What’s perhaps most surprising is that allegations described aren’t against a corporate behemoth known for flouting workers health and safety laws, but rather at Trader Joe’s, the grocery chain where progressives love to shop, The Los Angeles Times reports.

“I think our customers would be so bummed to learn Trader Joe’s isn’t as progressive and accepting as it likes to project,” said Bernardo, who works at the chain’s College Avenue store in Oakland, California.

Watch: Jordan Klepper finds small crowd but big delusions at Manhattan MAGA rally

The plight of Trader Joe’s employees described in the report is the basis for a union drive at the company.

The Oakland store where Bernardo works is the first in the state where workers are officially seeking unionization.

Trader Joe’s is among several companies with progressive reputations where union drives are underway, according to the report, which notes that Starbucks and REI are among the others.

So far, three stores have voted to join Trader Joe’s United, an independent union, the report said.

“I feel like it was true at one point that Trader Joe’s was an exceptional grocery store to work at,” Trader Joe’s United communications director Maeg Yosef said.

Workers cite inconsistent wage scales, concerns over reporting sexual harassment and a refusal to implement conveyer belts that would reduce repetitive strain among the top reasons for seeking unionization, the report said.

Workers allege that during the pandemic the company cut hazard pay, stopped giving raises and gutted retirement benefits, the report said.

Nava Rosenthal, a 23-year-old Trader Joe’s employee who has worked for the company for almost five years said lifting of COVID-19 protocols signaled that employee health and safety wasn’t a high priority.

“While we’re putting our health at risk during the pandemic, and our families’ health at risk, that’s how they thanked us,” Bernardo said.

“It’s just so disrespectful. You feel so devalued as a crew member when you’re sacrificing so much to show up for the company. And how they repay you is to take money out of your pockets.”

ALSO IN THE NEWS: QAnon follower charged in bizarre booby trap incident that injured salesman