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Retail Giant Target Facing Union Pressure in New York, Throughout the Nation

Retail giant Target is beginning to face the same union pressures that Wal-Mart has dealt with for a decade, with employees seeking to join together to increase their pay and benefits, The Associated Press recently reported.

There are some 7.6 million public employees who belong to unions and another 7.1 million private sector workers who are unionized. New York leads all states in union memberships, where more than 24 percent of wage and salary workers are union members. Union disputes are common and for that reason, New York union labor laws have been established to help when there are issues between employers and employees.According to the wire service, Target had its first union election in two decades in June after workers in Valley Stream, on Long Island, complained of skimpy wages and reduced hours. But the measure failed after Target told workers the store may close if they voted to unionize.

Wal-Mart is the country’s biggest target for labor groups as the largest U.S. private employer, but unions have increasingly targeted, well, Target, the nation’s No. 3 retailer as it expands into the heavily unionized grocery business.

Along with New York, labor disputes are expected in large cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis. Already, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union’s Local 1500 New York chapter, which organized the election the Valley Stream store, wants to contest the election results and ask the government to order a new one, alleging Target intimidated workers. It hopes to get all 26 stores in the New York area unionized.

A Target spokeswoman didn’t comment on its strategies to counter an escalating labor fight.

“Our emphasis is on creating a workplace environment where our team members don’t want or need union representation,” spokeswoman Molly Snyder said. “Target works to create an environment of mutual trust between Target and our team members — an environment that promotes listening, responding to concerns of team members and always giving honest feedback.”

The article lays out the different treatment Wal-Mart and Target have received. Both stores pay employees between $9 and $11 per hour, but Wal-Mart has battled labor unions and politicians seeking to ban it from opening stores amid allegations of poor treatment of workers, while Target has 10 stores in the five New York boroughs.

Target employes 355,000 workers and operates 1,700 stores compared to Wal-Mart, which has more than 4,000 stores and 1.4 million workers. But the increased scrutiny of Target may be coming because of its plan to expand its grocery business, which can shrink the business of unionized supermarket chains.

Labor issues can be highly emotional, whether on the workers’ side or the corporation’s side. These disputes can become ugly and require experienced New York labor lawyers to sort out the problems. Whether a company that feels a union would pull it apart or a group of employees who demand respect and better pay, our law firm can help.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman handles labor law disputes in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.

Additional Resources:

Target’s honeymoon could be over, by Anne D’Innocenzio, The Associated Press