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NLRB Slams Target Anti-Union Lawbreaking

by Dan Burns on May 24, 2012 · 0 comments

I’m going to spurn any pretense at objectivity – not that there generally is one, with my blogging – and just echo the UFCW’s announcement of triumph.  The well-publicized union election, in which workers voted against joining in the wake of a campaign of lies and threats from War on Workers zealots, was in Valley Stream, New York.

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled Target violated the numerous federal labor laws in an effort to keep their employees from joining the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 last June. The ruling is a victory for all working men and women whose rights have been trampled on countless times by mega-retailers like Target & Walmart. These retailers act as they are too big and too powerful to be held accountable for their disregard of workers’ rights.

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The Chicago Tribune interviewed vulture capitalist and billionaire Kenneth Griffin who moaned about how awful everything is under the Obama Administration. He runs a hedge fund and is a conservative. Hedge funds and men like Griffin have made trillions of dollars betting against our economy and stripping American companies of all value.

After nearly weeping over the state of our nation under Obama (aka The Weeping Orange Man), bemoaning how little influence the billionaires have over American politics and blaming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for the financial crisis he and his ilk caused, Griffin lets us know that our efforts are actually scaring the 1% … as much as the unwashed masses are ever going to scare them:

Q. How much do you think your influence comes from the size of your donations? Do you think you should be able to make unlimited donations? Should you be able to donate $500,000 to a super PAC?

A. In my opinion, absolutely. Absolutely. The rules that encourage transparency around that are really important. And I say that with a bit of trepidation.

Q. Why with trepidation?

A. Target made a political donation and there was a huge boycott organized.

Q. So do you or don’t you think the public should know if you’re giving this money?

A. My public policy hat says transparency is valuable. On the flip side, this is a very sad moment in my lifetime. This is the first time class warfare has really been embraced as a political tool. Because we are looking at an administration that has embraced class warfare as being politically expedient, I do worry about the publicity that comes with being willing to both with my dollars and, more importantly, with my voice to stand for what I believe in.

That’s right. The spoiled rich kid hates class warfare when we po’ folk point fight back. The guy who started on third base and thinks he hit a home run after he made his first billion, isn’t happy that the 99% might not like it that he and his friends have bought Congress.

Sheesh. Sorry, dude. We didn’t know you silver spooners had it so rough. Maybe we should ease up on the poor guy considering the hardship he’s undergone.

And to Target’s upper management: We’re really sorry we got angry that you tried to buy the governor’s race for your homophobic muppet Tom Emmer.

We’ll stop demanding transparency, honesty and any sense of ethics. We’ll just go back to buying your cheap **** made in China and keeping our mouths shut. Sorry. Won’t happen again.

Just please stop crying.

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Last week.

The National Labor Relations Board has added to charges that retail giant Target violated the law in the run-up to a failed unionization vote at its Valley Stream, L.I., location last year, alleging that supervisors interrogated workers about their support for the campaign and threatened to close the store if the union came in and organized a strike.

Other new unfair-labor-practice charges pertain to an employee handbook that was revised in 2009 and contains policies prohibiting employees from sharing confidential company information with each other. The confidentiality policy, which comes with penalty of termination or prosecution, could prevent workers from discussing their salaries with each other, making organizing more challenging.

With new members on the board, there may be an improved chance that Target will face real sanctions in the wake of its egregious attacks on workers’ rights.

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Target’s Union Election Shenanigans

by Dan Burns on November 8, 2011 · 0 comments

Target is probably facing a penalty, though nowhere near as stringent a one as it deserves.  In fact, even calling it a “penalty” is a stretch.

The Brooklyn body of the National Labor Relations Board has gathered more evidence that Target intimidated workers by threatening to close a store if a union was approved in a vote this summer.

The new charges could be enough evidence for an administrative law judge to recommend that the election results be overturned, Alvin Blyer of the regional NLRB told the Minnesota Independent.

There is more here, both about the Target issue, and efforts to unionize in general.

Target isn’t the only mega-retailer facing accusations that it treats its workers unfairly. Half a dozen current and former Walmart employees argued in a presentation to a group of investors and analysts last month that the company’s low-cost approach to labor is hurting sales. Walmart has resisted workers’ attempts to unionize.

 

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I wrote, a little over a week ago, about an effort to unionize low-wage workers at a Target store in New York.  The effort failed.

You may be unhappy with working conditions, Target told employees at its Valley Stream, N.Y., store, but it could be a lot worse if you accept the overtures of the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

The store itself might not even survive, the company suggested…

The organizers aren’t giving up.

In New York, UFCW Local 1500 has filed unfair labor practice charges against Target for threatening to fire a union supporter for talking in favor of the union while at work and for threatening to close the store if the union prevailed. On Monday, the union began turning those same charges and others into formal objections in an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to get a new election.

“This is only Round One,” Patrick Purcell, a spokesman for UFCW Local 1500, said after the union’s defeat was announced.

In this, as in so much else, 30+ years of corrupt welfare-for-the-wealthy governance has created, figuratively, some extremely imposing ramparts, for the forces of righteousness to try to breach.

Also, as in so much else, it would be preferable if Democratic leaders would pay more attention to this issue, including at the highest levels.  But, psychologically, it’s been noted that when things aren’t going well for people, there’s a subconscious tendency to pull others down, as well.  As a result, the popularity of labor unions is in a trough right now, and the politics aren’t favorable.  That’s noted as a practical consideration, not as an excuse.

Update

Just to be clear, threatening retaliation against workers, if they unionize, is illegal.  Boeing is in hot water, for recently doing just that.

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Last week the news of Target Corporation’s $150,000.00 donation to Minnesota Forward made it’s way around Minnesota.  Particularly Minnesota’s LGBTQ Communities. Three different stories were written in the Twin Cities LGBT News Blog The Colu.mn.  There were also two different blog posts here on the Minnesota Progressive Project.  A boycott of Target group has been created on Facebook over the weekend with close to 100 members already signed on.

As of last Friday many of us who started contacting Target about our disappointment over the corporations decision to support Minnesota Forward most likely got a return email that was very much like this one:

Dear Philip Lowe,

Target has long believed that engaging in civic activities is an important and necessary element of operating a national retail business. What’s more important than any one candidate’s stance on a particular issue is how we nurture thoughtful, long-term growth in the state of Minnesota.

To continue to grow and create jobs and opportunity in our home state, we believe it is imperative to be engaged in public policy and the political process. That is why we are members of organizations like the Minnesota Business Partnership, the Chamber of Commerce and many others. And that is why we decided to contribute to MN Forward.

MN Forward’s objective is to elect candidates from both parties who will make job creation and economic growth a top priority. We operate best when working collaboratively with legislators on both sides of the aisle.  In fact, if you look at our Federal PAC contributions year to date, you will see that they are very balanced between Republicans and Democrats. For more information please visit www.target.com/company, and view the Civic  Activity page.

Target has a large stake in Minnesota’s future, which is why it is so important to be able to provide jobs, serve guests, support communities and deliver on our commitment to shareholders. As an international business that is proud to call Minnesota home, it is critical that we have a business environment that allows us to be competitive. Our guests, team members, communities and shareholders depend on Target to remain competitive.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at (612) 307-5075 using the reference number 1-452594505 if you would like to discuss this further.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback.

Sincerely,

Dylan
Target Executive Offices
[THREAD ID:1-7HHF7B]

Here was my response to that email.

Dear Dylan,

The very fact that Target Corporation has placed a business and it’s corporate interests above the civil rights of individual people, and supported a candidate that is against the very principle’s that Target claims to be in favor of, is unacceptable.

I will continue to no longer support Target Corporation and encourage other members of the LGBTQ communities to follow suit.

I will not accept or tolerate any explanation of what Target has done in this regard, except refusing to further fund Forward Minnesota and Tom Emmer’s Campaign.

In addition to Tom Emmer’s claim against the LGBTQ communities, Tom Emmer is also in favor of reducing Minnesota’s Minimum Wage requirement, which will give more power to corporations to further do damage to Minnesota’s already hurting work force.

I therefore will not accept the answer that I have been given, and now regard Target as a lying ally of the LGBTQ communities.  Come Monday morning, I will begin my communications with the Human Rights Campaign to see if we can make the move against Target a nationalized activist campaign.

Philip

That email was followed with the following response.

Dear Philip Lowe,

Thanks for taking the time to share your additional thoughts about your experience. Our support of causes and candidates is based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.

Your feedback helps us understand the changes you’d like to see at Target. Because we’re always reviewing our policies and services, I’ve shared your comments with the appropriate team.

Sincerely,

Dylan
Target Guest Relations
www.target.com
[THREAD ID:1-7HHF7B]

In other words a professionally polite “screw you.”

The news of Target’s decision to fund Tom Emmer’s PAC went beyond Minnesota when I wrote a blog article about it on Pam’s House Blend.  In the comments of my blog post was the following.

Mr. Steinhafel,
I have long recognized Target’s progressive policies toward its LGBT employees and have thusly rewarded it with my business, even in the face of miserable customer service experiences at your XXXX location near my home.  My household easily spends over $1,000 at Target each month.  Due to Target’s heavy support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, my household’s spending will now be directed elsewhere.

In 1985 I was a leader in the economic response to bigotry at the ballot box in Houston when anti-discrimination policies of the city were taken to a referendum.  Major financial institutions and other businesses suffered losses of income due to their support of bigotry, though many became enlightened about workplace fairness in the process and reformed their corporate human resources policies.  Twenty-five years later I cannot abide by Target’s betrayal of the trust of LGBT consumers, regardless of the “pro-jobs” rhetoric your firm has proliferated in response to other questions about support for Emmer.

Corporations and politicians are either with me or against me.  To stand lukewarm or conflicted is just as bad as outright hate.

With kindest regards,
David Phillips

And this one:

The following is an email I sent to Target, via their web page. Thanks for the corporate contact and address, as I will also be sending a message directly to the CEO.

For all the good I’ve always heard about Target doing for the local communities it serves, it was quite a shock to read an article about Target giving $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, which supports the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Emmer, an opponent of gay marriage. The article (http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/07/24/Target_Contributes_to_Antigay_Minnesota_Politician/) states that Target’s response was that “Target supports causes and candidates based strictly on issues that affect our retail and business interests.” I suspect, and hope, that Target is going to find out that this contribution is going to have an adverse affect on your retail and business interests, as it appears that you hopefully will realize that the LGBT community doesn’t like getting stabbed in the back, and will realize the hypocrisy you espouse. I personally don’t do a lot of shopping at Target, as there isn’t one close to me, but I will now make every effort to avoid Target, and let my friends in the LGBT community know what you’re really up to. I don’t think they’ll react too sympathetically with your decision.

And lastly

…???
If Minnesota Forward’s aim is to create businesses and jobs, for the love of God, why are they accepting money from the likes of Target (Walmart lite)…?!

These types of mega-retailers kill local businesses and apparently would rather shell out $150,000 to a political organization than pay their average employees a living wage.

.

It just so happens that as I was proofreading this blog post, I got a returned phone call from the national office of the Human Rights Campaign.  HRC Press Secretary Paul Guequierre sent me the following statement as he told me that HRC is attempting to work directly with Target over their choice to support Minnesota Forward.

Target has worked hard to create a fair and equitable workplace for its LGBT employees, and should be proud of its leadership in this area. It is for this reason that HRC is very disappointed in Target’s significant monetary contribution to Minnesota Forward, a group supporting the most clearly anti-LGBT candidate for Governor in Minnesota. We have reached out to Target to express our concern over this contribution. While political contributions to support candidates are not a factor in HRC Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, HRC finds it puzzling that Target would take great steps to support LGBT inclusiveness while simultaneously helping a candidate who shamelessly rejects equality for LGBT Minnesotans.

The news of Target Corporations support of Tom Emmer is also in a newspaper in San Francisco where they are reportedly building a new store there.

How will Target deal with the news that what they have done in Minnesota also affects them in other parts of the country?  We have yet to see.  This is getting very interesting to say the least.

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Minnesota has begun to see the first fruits of the Supreme Court Decision Citizens United.  However, the last corporation we would expect to take first advantage of it is Target.

According to WCCO News Target Corporation donated about $150,000.00 to a political action committee called “Forward Minnesota” that has sponsored a television ad for GOP Candidate Tom Emmer.

The news has only begun to ripple through the LGBT Community and is already receiving some bad press.  Many are shocked and dismayed that Target a company that participates in many LGBT related functions including Twin Cities Pride and the Minnesota AIDS Walk every year, would even consider sponsoring an ad for the most anti-gay candidate for Governor.  

What is the next move for progressives and LGBT people and those who support the LGBT Communty?  Should we begin a letter writing campaign?  Should we begin to boycott Target,which may leave many middle to lower class Minnesotan’s with only Wal-Fart (excuse me, Wal-Mart)?  What about those who use Target’s amazing $4.00 prescription program that saves many of us a lot of money?  How can progressives and the LGBT community respond to this in a way that will get our message across to the Target Corporation effectively?  Are we all really helpless to Citizens United, or is there more we can all do?

If corporations are going to begin using Citizens United as their best tools for putting themselves ahead of people, then how can we respond to that?  

I offer these and many questions for everyone’s thoughts and comments.  We have an obligation to respond to this.  This is one of those things that I hope either Mike Macintee or even Matt McNeil from AM 950 picks up on and runs with it on their radio shows.  I think it is very important that people here on the Minnesota Progressive Project and all through out the Twin Cities area be given an opportunity to respond to this in a way that will really hit Target Corporation where it will effect change in a positive way for everyone.

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