Target vs. Unions: An Inside LookS

Yesterday, we learned that friendly red-hued big box retailer Target is now the "target," ha, of a union campaign here in New York. Goodbye, Target's reputation as a place that liberals who don't like Wal-Mart can shop without guilt! But just how anti-union is Target? According to former Target employees: very.

After yesterday's story, we heard from multiple people who had or have worked at Target. Although Wal-Mart has a longstanding reputation as the most voraciously anti-union big box retailer, these employees tell us that Target is just as bad. For example, all new hires have to watch an anti-union video as part of their training. A full transcript of that video can be found here. Sample dialogue:

Person 1: We're a Target because we're a threat to unions. The unions
that represent grocery store workers.

Person 2: When we take business away from unionized grocery stores
that means they need fewer employees.

Person 1: And fewer grocery store employees means fewer union
members. And fewer members? Well that's a problem for the union
business. That's right, I said business. Union business.

[scary themed background music starts to play]
[screen with dollar bills falling down begins to play]

Scary! One employee kindly sent us the section of the Target "Team Member Handbook" that deals with the union issue. It's standard corporate iron-fist-in-velvet-glove rhetoric about how unions are completely unnecessary—and don't you forget it:

Union Philosophy
We believe in solving issues and concerns by working together with your help and input. Target wants to continue to create the kind of workplace where team members don't want or need union representation to solve issues. We don't believe a union or any third-party representative would improve anything for you, our guests or the company. There are a lot of great things that go along with being a Target team member and you don't need to go to an outside party to get them.

Under "Get To Know Our Expectations"
As a new team member, you need to know what Target expects from you. Here are a few examples of things that could cause you to lose your job.

Don't Solicit Your Team Members
During working time (not including meal and break periods or any other times when a team member is not expected to be engaged in work activities) you must not ask your team members to join organizations or pools, or to make gifts to charities. Work connected with the United Way annual drive is not a violation of this rule.

Another former employee tells us that Target employees have standing orders to report any employee discussing unions to management. His take:

I work at one of the most productive Target distribution centers in the country. I'm in the outbound department where you basically load truck trailers with 400+ boxes an hour for 12 hours a night. Since around February we've had about 14 reported injury incidents. Just this past Saturday a woman had her arm caught in a conveyor belt and her skin was ripped off and she received a compound fracture. The next day 3 workers were injured as well. Needless to say, the admins are freaking out now and we had a big meeting on Monday about how much they care for us, safety, blah blah (I'm thinking her injury is related to company negligence, as they visited her in the hospital and are showing her support, where with other workers who have had heart attacks and other ailments received no such "love"). Anyways, Target NEEDS to unionize. My job before this was union, and while it had its problems, they were nothing compared to this. And the health insurance is WAY too much. Most of my co workers are constantly popping pills for pain or smoking weed when they're off the job to deal with pain, and therefore don't report any of their injuries, as you're immediately drug tested and terminated if it comes back dirty. In our orientation we also watched that hilarious anti-union video and were told to report anyone who mentions unions.

Target and Wal-Mart: same shit, different shingle? We want to know. We've already heard the real-life tales of Wal-Mart workers; now, we want to hear from anyone who works or has worked at Target. Is a union necessary? What is life as a Target employee like? Email me. Anonymity is guaranteed.

[Photo via joannabethpdot/Flickr]