By Libby Rainey
Trader Joe’s workers at a New York City store confronted store management Tuesday afternoon to demand immediate changes to safety protocols after they say management failed to warn workers about an active shooter threat in their store last week, putting them at risk.
Workers say that a Trader Joe’s crew member threatened to open fire inside the Trader Joe’s Murray Hill location on Thursday after an altercation with a manager, but management delayed telling the store staff and failed to communicate the safety threat. A source told More Perfect Union that the store closed two hours early and that security guards were present in the store, but workers were not told why. Trader Joe’s waited until the next day to tell workers what had happened at the store by calling them individually. Some workers weren’t even alerted the next day.
In response, a group of workers presented their boss with a petition Tuesday signed by at least 60 crew members, giving management 24 hours to agree to create a “safety playbook” including protocol for emergency situations. Workers are also demanding Trader Joe’s modify its existing safety team so the majority of members are democratically elected workers.
On Tuesday, workers read a letter to store captain Hannah Tasker, saying, “During the events of last week, we witnessed the failure of management to communicate necessary and crucial information to the crew, and many of us feared for our safety. Many crew members were forced to come to work without any knowledge of a potentially dangerous situation. The failure to communicate demonstrated management’s clear predisposition to prioritize profits over the safety, mental health, and wellbeing of our crew members.”
On Saturday, workers began distributing their petition, including posting it in the breakroom. Management responded by taping a statement over the petition, listing the members of its current safety team.
This is the second collective action workers at the Murray Hill store have taken since learning of the active shooter threat on Thursday, according to a source close to the workers. On Friday morning, more than a dozen workers walked out after a meeting at the store demanding Trader Joe’s send a mass communication to its workers about the incident and their safety.
The shooting threat at Trader Joe’s comes less than a month after a white man opened fire in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, killing ten Black people. In the aftermath of the grocery store shooting, workers at Trader Joe’s Murray Hill location distributed a petition demanding increased safety measures at their store, including an in-store security guard, more detailed safety training and paid time to learn evacuation protocols.
Our source tells us management responded to this first petition by saying it already has a safety team.
But workers say the shooting threat in Murray Hill only a few weeks later exposed the company’s safety protocols as dangerously inadequate.