Target employees at a store in New York will take a union vote next week after getting the green light from the National Labor Relations Board.
The action is rare among front-line workers at Target Corp., where none of the retailer’s more than 1,800 stores are unionized.
About 200 workers at the Huntington Station store on Long Island will consider representation from the Local 1500 chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), which would enable collective bargaining for pay, benefits, hours, paid leave and other workplace conditions.
Eligible workers had to be employed as of the period ending Aug. 4. Representation excludes certain positions, including managers, those who work in security, those in human resources and seasonal workers, according to the NLRB filing made public on Friday.
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. has objected to the vote, arguing that the process was corrupted when a supervisor played a role in gathering authorization cards, the first step workers take to prove that there is substantial interest in forming a union.
The ruling did not discount Target’s argument but determined that the vote could still proceed.
Should the hourly workers vote in favor of joining the UFCW, the nation’s largest union for retail workers, Target potentially could raise the issue again during the seven- to 10-day window in which the NLRB certifies election results.
Target has long argued against the necessity of unions, saying its culture and benefits make unions unnecessary.
In a statement, spokeswoman Jenna Reck underscored the retailer’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of 2020 as well as its commitment to training.
“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. “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.”
A previous unionizing attempt by hourly workers at another Long Island store, in Valley Stream, failed in June 2011 by a 137-85 vote. Target’s pharmacy workers at a store in Brooklyn briefly succeeded in forming a micro union in 2015, but it came as the retailer had already sold its pharmacies to CVS.
Representatives from Local 1500 in New York did not return a call seeking comment. The union has more than 18,000 members in Long Island, New York City, and Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties, according to its website.