By: Claude Solnik
August 13, 2018
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of workers at the Target in Huntington Station seeking a vote on whether to unionize.
The store, if it chooses to unionize, would become the first in the chain with about 1,700 in the United States to do so.
Target sold its pharmacy business to CVS in 2015, so it no longer owns its pharmacies or employs the people who work in them.
A minimum of 30 percent of workers must request a vote for it to take place, although unions typically want to have more than half of the workers at a store on board before they request a vote.
A spokeswoman for the union said that the store employs about 200. Issues such as who is eligible to vote must be addressed before a vote can take place.
UFCW Local 1500 has more than 18,000 members in Long Island, New York City and Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
It represents workers at Fairway, King Kullen, Stop and Shop, Gristedes, D'Agostino, Key Food, Shop Rite and the Hale and Hearty Commissary. In addition to supermarkets, it has represented workers at retailers such as Caldor's.
"As we do in all our stores, we have been listening and having important conversations with our Huntington team through the programs and mechanisms we make available for regular feedback," Jenna Reck, a Target spokeswoman, said. "We do not believe a union intermediary would improve that process in any way and we are committed to continuing to listen to and support all of our team members, who come together every day to proudly serve our guests."
Target and the union, however, have clashed before over an effort to unionize a Valley Stream store that led to litigation.
The workers at Target in Valley Stream in June of 2011 voted 137 to 85 not to unionize, but the union argued before an administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board that workers had been intimidated.
Target closed the store for renovations for several months and, the union said, transferred some pro-union workers to other stores, before reopening.
Steven Davis, an administrative law judge, concluded that Target "engaged in certain unfair labor practices," although Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder at the time said the company "respectfully" disagrees with the decision.
"We firmly believe Target followed all the laws throughout the union's campaign at its Valley Stream store and that the process leading up to the June 2011 election was fair and legal," she said.
Although the labor union won the right to hold another vote, it has not done so, arguing that workers at the Valley Stream store were intimidated - and instead seeking to unionize another location.
"We have a history with Target," Brendan Sexton, director of organizing at UFCW Local 1500, said in a written statement. "We have seen what anti-worker tactics they deploy to intimidate workers from unionizing. So it was no surprise to learn that workers from Huntington are experiencing similar abuse as the workers from the Valley Stream store were in 2011."
The union says Target doesn't invest in workers, but rather relies on an often changing workforce, while a union could help give them a voice. Target says it does provide a path to advance.
"At Target, we have long prioritized investing in our team to ensure each person has opportunities to grow professionally, take care of themselves and their families, and make a difference in the communities where they live and work," Reck said. "Foundational to Target's workplace culture is a commitment to listening to our team and creating an environment of mutual trust where every team member's voice matters."
The union is focusing on various issues, while contending that many employees work part-time, often fewer hours than they would like.
A union representative said part-time workers typically don't get the benefits that they would qualify for if they worked full-time.
"It ties into benefits as far as how many people would vest into a pension, 401(k)," Aly Waddy, assistant to the secretary treasurer and vice president for the union local, said. "They're creating jobs so transient that people get training and move on."
The union in a press release included quotes from various Target workers, as they announced the filing for a vote on whether to unionize.
"I am excited to finally have a voice in my workplace," Jennifer Ryan, a Target employee, said in the release. "I love my job and the people I work with, but we need to protect ourselves and our families in order to survive."
Target argues it already works with and helps workers, providing assistance beyond compensation even without a union.
"We provide extensive support to our employees, including HR resources at every store, training and advancement opportunities and multiple benefits that create an inclusive, welcoming and rewarding environment," Reck said.
While the union says the store helps workers file for some public benefits, it argues that higher compensation, more hours and raises in general are more helpful to workers and their families.
"The workers of the Huntington Station Target are taking a bold step forward," Anthony Speelman, president of UFCW 1500, said in a written statement. "They deserve a voice and a seat at the corporate table and we will stand with them until they have both."