Federal Board Agrees With Workers That Target Used Illegal Intimidation During Union Drive

A judge from the National Labor Relations Board has overturned a union election at a Target store in New York in which workers ostensibly voted against becoming the first of the retail giant’s locations to organize. The judge ordered Target, which is notorious for its anti-labor practices, to hold a new election after agreeing with the United Food and Commercial Workers, who had accused the company of intimidating workers ahead of the election, Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

The decision comes almost a year after The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 contested the 137-85 vote against unionization in June 2011. It argued that Target illegally intimidated workers for months leading up to the vote. Target denied the allegations. […]

Target completely poisoned the democratic process from day one,” said Patrick Purcell, assistant to the president of the UFCW Local 1500 in an interview with The Associated Press. “And now a judge agreed with everything we said.”

UFCW workers complained of intimidation immediately after the vote last year, and in November, the NLRB found additional evidence that Target officials illegally threatened to close the store if workers organized. It also found that Target supervisors “interrogated workers about their union activity,” complains the judge apparently found to be true.

In March, Target announced that it was temporarily close the store for six months for renovations, a move workers alleged was in retaliation for their organization efforts (1,100 Target stores are undergoing renovations nationwide, but most will remain open throughout the process). According to workers who filed the complaint, those who were the most vocal in their union support were deemed ineligible for transfers to other stores or for re-hire once the store re-opened, and they were given paltry severance packages to boot.

Target, however, says it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision and that its actions leading up to the election were “fair and legal.”