Home Depot workers reject union effort in Philadelphia

Workers at a Home Depot in Philadelphia voted decisively against unionization in an election held this week, backing down from an effort to form the home improvement chain’s first organized store.

A vote count conducted by the National Labor Relations Board on Saturday showed that upstart union Home Depot Workers United lost 165 to 51. The board has yet to certify the results and the union has a week to file any challenges.

Home Depot has no unions at any of its 2,000 stores in the United States, although some of the company’s drivers in California are represented by the Teamsters. The company opposed the organizing effort in Philadelphia and flooded the store with managers in an apparent effort to weaken any union support.

The channel told HuffPost before the vote count that “We respect the right to unionize, we just don’t believe it’s the best solution for our associates.

The union effort was run by Vince Quiles, a 26-year-old worker in the store’s receiving department. Quiles collected signed union cards from nearly 40% of the store’s workforce in order to schedule the election (the board requires signatures from at least 30% of the potential bargaining unit).

In an interview with HuffPost after filing for office, Quiles said the store’s employees were overworked and underpaid, and that working during the pandemic made him feel like a union was needed.

“People come in and break their ass. They work really hard,” Quiles said. “Whatever happens, [Home Depot is] are going to take us seriously and they are going to respect the people in this building more.

“Home Depot does not have a union in any of its 2,000 stores in the United States.”

American employers have seen an increase in work organization recently. Workers filed more petitions for union elections in the last fiscal year than in any other since 2016. They succeeded in creating the first unions at a host of big-name employers, including Amazon, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s, Apple, REI and Chipotle.

As at some of these other companies, the Home Depot labor effort was a new, independent campaign, unaffiliated with an established labor group like the Teamsters. Such campaigns are accompanied some advantagesbut they lack the resources and organizing staff that traditional unions bring to the table.

The independent Amazon Labor Union won a historic vote at the tech giant’s Staten Island warehouse earlier this year, and then lost two elections at smaller facilities. The New Trader Joe’s United Union won his first two elections — one in Hadley, Massachusetts, and another in Minneapolis — and lost a vote at a Brooklyn store last month.

Workers United, which spearheaded Starbucks’ organizing campaign, has successfully organized more than 200 stores in the past year. The coffee chain previously had no unions in any of its stores in the United States. Those who joined Workers United are now trying to negotiate their first contracts.

Quiles said the success of these other campaigns motivated him to try to take on his own employer.

“We’re inspired by Starbucks and Amazon — let’s be the catalyst for Home Depot,” he said.


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