Tensions Rise Before Historic Union Vote At Target (VIDEO)

06/17/2011 12:06 pm ET | Updated Aug 17, 2011

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. -- On the day before a historic union vote at a Target outside New York City, tensions at the store -- among employees, management, and union organizers -- are rising.

Employees at the Valley Stream Target store first contacted the United Food and Commercial Workers to seek representation back in February, hoping to bargain with the discount retailer for better hours and a living wage. Friday's vote is the first government-supervised union election Target has seen in more than two decades. A majority of workers have already signed cards supporting unionization. But a vote for the union is far from guaranteed.

Target has responded to the union's organizing efforts by unleashing a flow of anti-union propaganda. The corporation says its goal is to give employees the facts about unions; but, pro-union employees say, Target's real aim is to control the conversation and intimidate employees. They do this through videos and pamphlets warning workers that the union will take their dues and give them nothing in return. They also refuse to let the organizers discuss the union or explain their point of view on store property.

The UFCW has filed numerous charges against Target with the National Labor Relations Board and claims the company has threatened workers with the closure of the store in the face of a vote to join the union. Target broadly disputes the union's accusations and denies threatening to close the Valley Stream store.

On the day before the vote, organizers and workers walk the stores aisles. They aren't looking for discount goods. Instead, they say it is a last ditch effort to reach out to undecided employees and foster solidarity.

For more history and context, check out our piece delving into the the UFCW's campaign, and the stakes -- for the union, for America's second largest retailer, and for the future of worker's compensation in America.

Suggest a correction