Retail workers at a Home Depot store in northeast Philadelphia filed a petition on Sept. 20 with the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. Their request covers 274 employees organized as Home Depot Workers United. If successful, this will be the first storewide, door-to-door union within the company. In 2019, 60 Home Depot drivers won a petition to unionize as Local 287 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in San Diego, California.
The request to unionize covers merchandising, specialty and operations associates at the 4640 Roosevelt Blvd. Philadelphia branch. The workers were driven to unionize over concerns including wages, scheduling and working conditions. While the company experienced record profits during the pandemic, working conditions for employees deteriorated.
Vincent Quiles, an employee-organizer, told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Long story short, we got screwed over during the pandemic. This company made money hand-over-fist, and we just feel exploited. A lot of times we feel like we’re just a means to an end to make other people a lot of money.” (Sept. 20)
According to the Economic Policy Institute, 42% of Home Depot workers earn less than $15 an hour. Most — 68% — make between $12 to $18. The living wage in Philadelphia for a single worker with no children is $17.87.
During the pandemic, the company made tens of billions in profits. CEO Craig Menear has been paid over $13 million so far in 2022.
Because Home Depot has a history of union busting, Quiles and other workers did not appeal to an established union to organize them. They wanted to file as quickly as possible, lest management try to disrupt the filing. Now they are open to any advice others can give.
“We look a lot at what Amazon [Staten Island workers] did up in New York. We’re hoping to maybe do the same thing; but as of now, it’s us and a handful of people who are offering advice.” (Inquirer.com, Sept. 20)