A tiny group of Target employees in Brooklyn have pulled off what no Target employees ever have before: they’ve formed a union.
Target has been around for more than 50 years. It has nearly 350,000 employees and 1,800 U.S. stores. Yet it has never had a union in any of those stores in its entire history. (As you might expect, that is because it is a voracious and committed anti-union corporation from the top down.) That, despite the fact that Target employees have told us in sordid detail about the sort of poor pay and shitty working conditions that would make the company ripe for organizing.
But now, hot damn, right underneath everyone’s noses, a group of nine Target pharmacy workers have voted 7-2 to unionize with the UFCW. Caveats: the company is challenging the vote with the National Labor Relations Board, though they do not have a good reason to; more importantly, Target is currently selling its pharmacy business to CVS anyhow, so they won’t be Target Corp. union members for all that long; and, you know, it’s only nine people rather than an entire store. Still, this is a pretty big symbolic victory for the labor movement. It is the cracking of a facade that has previously been uncracked. And it shows that unionizing one of America’s most strongly anti-union retail chains is possible, no matter what level of fear the company is able to bring to bear on employees.
Huge corporate retail and fast food chains are probably the American companies whose employees could most benefit from unions. That’s why those companies are willing to do almost anything to keep unions out. Perhaps the balance has just tipped a tiny bit in the workers’ favor.