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Target shuts down Valley Stream store, workers cry foul

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 3/29/2012, 3:28 p.m.
Target shuts down Valley Stream store, workers cry foul

Last week, the management of the Target store in Valley Stream, N.Y., told workers that they will be closing for six months for remodeling. Good luck getting the employees to believe that.

Workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming that the store's closure is a direct response to their attempt to organize and join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1500.

Joe Hansen, UFCW International president, believes as much. While the AmNews didn't hear back from Local 1500, Hansen wrote a guest blog post on UFCW's website detailing his frustrations with Target.

"Target responded to these workers' initiative in a sadly typical way: waging a vicious campaign to scare the workers away from joining together as members of UFCW Local 1500," wrote Hansen. "The company's tactics ultimately derailed last year's election at Valley Stream--and those tactics are currently being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board, which could decide to call for a new election with fairer conditions.

"Target is targeting these workers, singling them out and trying to prevent the possibility of a second, fairer election," he continued. "It's a shameful strategy, one that takes aim at a core American value: the right to stick together on the job. We can't stand for such a bald-faced attack on the basic rights of working people."

But Target spokesperson Molly Snyder, in an email exchange with the AmNews, said that the retail/grocery chain is closing its Valley Stream store for remodeling and that the closing has nothing to do with payback over workers' attempt to unionize.

"Target is excited to bring new, exceptional shopping experiences to our Valley Stream, N.Y., and Portland, Ore., guests in the fall of 2012," said Snyder in a statement. "Due to the significant demolition and construction work involved in the remodeling of our Valley Stream and Portland northwest stores, Target will relocate all eligible team members to other nearby Target stores and temporarily close the locations while the construction takes place."

Target says they are committed to following all laws and is doing so now. And they "look forward to presenting the full history and facts to the NLRB," according to Snyder. She added, "The remodel of Target's Valley Stream store has been in the works since 2010, and the news of this remodel has been met with enthusiasm by our team members and guests."

Snyder directed the AmNews to documents featuring artist's renderings of the remodeled store.

Last June, Target workers in Valley Stream voted against joining UFCW Local 1500 in a 137-85 vote. Before that, Target employees had filed charges against management accusing them of threatening employees with discharge if they spoke about anything union-related, interrogating employees regarding union activity, informing employees that their union activity was under surveillance and threatening store closure if workers supported the union.