Target Fights Its Workers' Union

Workers at the Target stores in Keene and in Hadley, Massachusetts, near Amherst, will likely be watching the outcome of a June 17 vote by workers at a Target store in Valley Stream, New York on whether to form a union.

In 2009, the most recent year for which data were available, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel was paid more than $13 million.

Tashawna Green has worked at the Target store in Valley Stream for more than a year. She makes $8 an hour.

“We need a living wage where we can get by,” Sonia Williams told the New York Times. She works late at night at the store.

Green, Williams, and a majority of their co-workers signed union membership cards. In Canada and Europe, that would mean they’d have a union, and that the company would be required to negotiate with them over wages and benefits. In the United States, where labor laws are weaker, having a majority of workers sign union cards entitles the workers only to vote. The election date is routinely delayed for months or years while employers’ lawyers use a carrot and stick approach to getting workers to vote against the union. That’s according to Kate Bronfenbrenner, a professor at Cornell University.

By bargaining collectively, union members are able to negotiate higher wages. Union members earn 27 percent more than non-union workers. That's according to the U.S. Labor Department. Target is fighting its workers' effort to organize.

The Target workers want to join the Change to Win union:


The workers at the Target

The workers at the Target store in New York voted 137 - 85 against forming a union. The union has asked the federal government for a new election because Target illegally prohibited workers from wearing pro-union buttons, and from discussing working conditions online. Target illegally threatened to fire workers if they talked about the union, and threatened to close the store if the workers organized, a pro-union worker said. These kind of illegal anti-union tactics are routine, according to a group that supports harsher penalties for the violations:

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