NEW YORK – The federal labor board has scheduled a November vote on a petition from Home Depot workers in Philadelphia to form what could be the first storewide union at the world’s largest home improvement retailer.
The National Labor Relations Board said Wednesday the vote will take place Nov. 2 at the Philadelphia store, and the count will take place three days later.
Vincent Quiles, the Home Depot employee leading the unionization effort, submitted a petition last month with 103 workers’ signatures to form a collective bargaining unit for employees working in the store's merchandizing, specialty and operations departments. The original petition said the union would represent 274 workers, but Quiles said the number is now 266 after a recount and some talks with Home Depot over which workers to include.
Quiles said he expects the vote will be a toss up. There's a generational divide between younger workers who are generally more enthusiastic about the idea of a union and more wary older employees, he said. Discontent with compensation, working conditions and understaffing are the main grievances behind the effort, he said.
“If nothing else, the filing of this petition gave people a little big of hope ... that someone actually cares,” he said. “I'm hoping we can capitalize off that hope and get people to realize that if you want change you have to fight for it."
Home Depot does not “believe unionization is the best solution for our associates," said Margaret Smith, a company spokesperson.
"Our open-door policy is designed to assure all associates that they can bring concerns directly to leadership, and we have a track record of working successfully with our associates to resolve those concerns," she said.
Quiles said that in practice managers are often dismissive of concerns brought up by employees who take advantage of the open-door policy.
The labor board's database indicates next month's vote will be the first attempt to form a storewide union at Home Depot. The Atlanta-based company employs about 500,000 people at its 2,316 stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.