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Workers at a Target store in Virginia file for union vote

FILE - A sign at a Target store is pictured Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Oklahoma City.
FILE - A sign at a Target store is pictured Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Oklahoma City.(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:41 PM CDT
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NEW YORK (AP) — Workers at a Target store in Christiansburg, Virginia, filed paperwork Tuesday with federal labor regulators to hold a union election, joining a wave of union organizing at other retailers around the country.

Workers at the store, which employs about 100, are seeing their pay not keeping pace with surging costs for basics like food and rent, said Adam Ryan, who has been working at the Christiansburg store for five years and founded Target Workers Unite in 2019. He also noted employees feel like they are having to do too many tasks, from filling online orders to unloading trucks.

“The cost of living is going up and their pay isn’t meeting that,” said Ryan, 34, who filed the petition with the National Labor Relations Board. “That is causing a lot of anxiety and stress. People are stretched too thin. They need more support and compensation.”

He said the filing was sparked by veteran workers at the Christiansburg store organizing a petition in April demanding additional pay.

Ryan said he collected more than 30 authorization cards from workers at the store, about 30% of the staff, enough to meet the threshold mandated by NLRB, although the signatures still need to be reviewed. Ryan said he is hoping for other stores to join in, noting that Target workers are watching labor organizing at other companies. The Minneapolis-based company has about 350,000 employees.

Target said in statement Tuesday that it is committed to listening to its workers and creating an environment of mutual trust.

“We want all team members to be better off for working at Target,” the company said. Target cited industry leading starting hourly wages of $15 to $24, expanded health care benefits, personalized scheduling and opportunities for career growth. It said it raised the starting wage at its Christiansburg store last fall and increased wages for longer-tenured workers.

The Target workers filing comes as nearly 60 Starbucks locations around the country have voted to unionize.

The fledgling Amazon Labor Union scored a victory last month at an Amazon warehouse on New York City’s Staten Island, becoming the first U.S. Amazon warehouse to be unionized. But Amazon workers in a later election in a nearby facility rejected a union bid.

Meanwhile, the final outcome of a separate union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, is still up in the air with several hundred outstanding challenged ballots hanging in the balance. Hearings to review those ballots are expected to begin in the coming weeks.

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