Home Depot Workers United is a grassroots movement of Home Depot associates who cultivate and support associate union organizing efforts across the company.
We are associates who work in stores, call-centers, distribution centers, and in the field. As associates, we’re the engine that drives Home Depot’s success. We are Home Depot’s greatest asset and competitive advantage.
A union is the workers; the workers are the union.
A union is a group of two or more employees who join together to advance common interests such as wages, benefits, schedules, and other employment conditions.
A union is NOT a business, company, or third party.
A union is a vehicle through which workers get greater workplace democracy, rather than the current system of workplace authoritarianism by managers and corporate executives.
A union negotiates a contract that guarantees terms of employment for its members. Once a union is formed, the company must bargain with workers through their union whenever they want to make a change to wages, benefits or conditions, even before there is a union contract.
Collective bargaining is a process through which workers and management agree to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA), also known simply as a contract.
A union contract outlines, in detail, our pay, benefits, and employment conditions. This is a legally binding document that Home Depot must follow.
Before a contract goes into effect, it gets voted on by the associates who will benefit from it.
Many businesses boast an inverted pyramid, including Trader Joe’s, Amazon, UPS, and Nordstrom’s. It’s not unique or innovative; it’s corporate sloganeering.
Far too often, despite the Value Wheel and Inverted Pyramid, we’ve seen management or corporate act in ways that are not in associates’ best interests. The best way to get real workplace partnership and equality is through a real voice, put in writing, in a union contract.
If Home Depot is so confident in their treatment of associates, corporate executives and managers should have no objection to associates coming together to voice their concerns in a legally protected manner, such as unionizing.
Home Depot likes to call us its “competitive advantage”. We agree. However, Home Depot often does not treat us as such. Associates are not in the room when major changes happen to things like benefit packages or Standard Operating Procedures.
Corporate routinely calls us associates the Company’s “greatest asset”. If they truly feel this way, they should welcome our voices in every step of decision-making, and shouldn’t be casting negative light on a collectively bargained contract.
The company routinely praises associates for our ability to do great things when we put our collective effort behind something; why should advocating for ourselves or being involved in decisions that affect us directly be any different?
Who better to help decide things that directly impact Home Depot associates, than the associates themselves? We don’t need a corporate executive speaking for us. We need to come together as a union to raise our own voice.
Currently, Home Depot associates are employed at-will. This means that we can be fired or disciplined for almost any reason – as long as that reason isn’t against US Federal labor laws (like being fired for union activity or whistleblowing). Currently, all it takes is one unfair manager, and you could be without a job.
As soon as we form our union, we have additional rights under law. These Weingarten Rights:
• allow you to have a representative or steward be present in any conversation that could lead to disciplinary action or affect your employment,
• pause or delay said conversation until a representative or steward is available, and
• allow that representative to fight on your behalf to make sure you’re being treated fairly, proof of allegations are provided, and that all proper steps were taken by your employer.
As part of a union contract, we can negotiate a just cause clause that would set a standard Home Depot would have to follow. Essentially, Just cause means that your manager would need an actual reason to discipline or fire you. The reason must be fair and backed up with proof and documentation.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “All labor has dignity.”
While the trades have historically been heavily unionized, we believe, as Dr. King did, that all work has dignity and value. All workers should see the benefits of a democratized workplace and a strong union contract.
Other sectors that have large unionized populations include logistics, education, and entertainment. Home Depot Workers United is independent, but we are part of a growing wave of worker-led union organizing happening at places like Amazon, Starbucks, and other traditionally non-union employers.
We all know one petty, personal squabble with a manager is all it can take to make your work life miserable. Therefore, some people aren’t comfortable sticking up for themselves in progressive discipline meetings, or decide it’s best not to defend themselves for fear that doing so might draw the ire of a manager or cast them as “difficult.”
With a union, you’d never have to have those tough conversations alone and you’d have the legally protected option to have someone there to fight with you on your behalf.
Weingarten Rights allow you to request a union representative to be present at any and all meetings or discussions that could lead to discipline or possibly affect your employment. These rights are protected by US Federal law, but only available to those whose workplace is unionized.
As unionized associates, we’d still be able to use the open door policy if we chose to do so. We’d also have all the benefits, protections and rights that come along with being unionized workers with a union contract.
Being in a union doesn’t mean you give up the right or ability to speak for yourself; being in a union means you have union siblings ready to stand next to you when you do.
We think communication is great. However, HR and managers have no legal obligation to be truthful. HR is there to serve Home Depot and protect the Company from potential litigation. HR reps or managers can be otherwise fine or friendly people, and can even mean well, but at the end of the day, their job function is to maximize profits and to prevent Home Depot from being held responsible through legal action.
How many times have you had a concern or great idea that fell on deaf ears? How many times have you been treated unfairly by a manager? Has the “open door policy” helped in those cases?
The current Standard Operating Procedures are written and rewritten without our input and are unfairly applied. Having a strong union made up of associates will force Home Depot to listen to us, and the contract that we negotiate will be legally enforceable.
If you have store management that you feel treats associates respectfully and fairly, that’s great. But what happens when they get promoted, transferred, or retire?
At the end of the day, a boss’s promise is temporary and nonenforceable; a union contract is. A union contract protects the good times.
In fiscal 2021, Home Depot gave 22 BILLION DOLLARS to shareholders through buy-backs and dividends. That is $7 billion in dividends and $15 billion in stock buy-backs.
Corporate did not bring the same energy when it came to invest in its “greatest asset,” us associates.
We believe that associates at such a profitable company deserve to make a living wage, and as a union, we can fight for it.
Concerted activity is the legal term for what is commonly referred to as organizing your workplace. It is the set of rights workers have under US Federal labor laws provided by the NLRA, to discuss and act together to address workplace conditions.
It is against the law for Home Depot or any employer to violate or interfere with these rights. You have a right to talk about your working conditions and to form a union.
The company does provide some benefits, but they could be better. Home Depot is supposed to be an industry leader; the benefits package associates receive should lead the industry as well.
Without a union, Home Depot can decide to end any benefit at any time and associates would have no recourse. With a union, even before we bargain a contract, any benefits changes must be negotiated with workers.
And as a union, we will be able to bargain for a contract that contains even better benefits.
Union dues help pay for things like assisting associates’ organizing efforts, legal support, and educational training. Once we have a contract, our dues will go towards enforcing that agreement.
The dues structure for our union is entirely up to us, the members of the Home Depot Workers United. There are no dues until we negotiate and vote on our first contract.
Firing workers or closing stores in retaliation for unionizing would be an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) in violation of the NLRA. In plain terms, it is illegal. By law, Home Depot also can’t take away any existing benefits when we vote to unionize.
Everything in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions at the time that we win our union election becomes the starting point for contract negotiations. From then on, we can collectively bargain to change things, and the company can’t make changes without talking to us first.
A union contract is a legally binding agreement. It outlines terms of employment from pay, to job description, to benefits and other working conditions. A contract is enforceable, usually by filing a charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Currently, if you ask for an investigation into something like an unfair discipline situation, Home Depot gets final say on their own actions. Being in a union allows us to establish a grievance process where an independent arbitrator can compel Home Depot to make good under penalty of law.
If associates ask for something individually, management can easily ignore us or string us along with the promise to address the issue at some unspecified future date. If hundreds, or even thousands of associates raise an issue collectively, management can’t ignore us. This is the true power of a union.
We don’t hate our jobs. We love helping customers, learning about products, and getting freight moving. Decisions made by those who sit in corporate offices get in the way of those things and drive associate turnover.
Associates know what works and what doesn’t since we’re the ones on the sales floor, in the distribution center, call center, or out in the field every day. We want a democratic voice in our working conditions, and think it’s time associates get treated as Home Depot’s “greatest asset” in ways more than empty rhetoric.
This isn’t only about current associates. This is about making the job better for future associates and making a job with Home Depot something you can afford to live on.
We’re not causing trouble, we’re paying attention to the problems that already exist; problems that management and corporate executives created and refuse to address. Just as you would blame the person who started a fire, not the one who pulled the fire alarm, so too should the focus be towards those who keep stores under-staffed and associates under-paid, not those who point out those issues.
If workers cede power to every employer by simply moving from one job to the next, it creates a race to the bottom and working conditions will only continue to get worse across the board. That’s why workers at companies such as Starbucks, Amazon, Verizon, and Trader Joe’s (among others) are organizing – and it’s why we should too.