A settlement has been reached between Christiansburg Target workers and Target Corporation after months of negotiations between Target’s hired law firm Littler Mendelson P.C. and the National Labor Relations Board. The National Labor Relations Board found Target management guilty of several labor rights violations including acts of discrimination, censorship, intimidation, threats, and surveillance of workers exercising their labor rights both during and after the August 2017 strike against worker abuses perpetrated by the now-fired general manager Daniel Butler.
After the success of the strike workers organized labor rights meetings only to face retaliation by management for exercising their labor rights. Management also waged a campaign of disinformation regarding the worker committee as a unionization drive. They actively discouraged workers from discussing the workers committee by holding captive audience meetings and giving the impression it is against the rules to discuss the workers committee or the store newsletter workers collaborated on to share thoughts and ideas regarding workplace issues.
Recently a worker came forward to confirm that management had encouraged workers to create a hostile work environment towards the workers who went on strike or collaborated with striking workers while also threatening the jobs of all workers by implying if workers were to band together under the workers committee Target would close the store down.
A major point of confusion among workers is what even is a workers committee. Some say it’s a union or an attempt at forming a union, but workers who are for the workers committee have repeatedly emphasized that it isn’t a union nor an attempt to form a union. There is a formal legal process workers must go through, which is mediated by the NLRB, to gain official union recognition, such as 30% of workers on the job must sign union authorization cards, file an election petition to the NLRB, and after a period of investigation by the NLRB to determine if there is enough interest to vote for a union the NLRB will then conduct a union election. This is the only way a union can be introduced on the job, the only exception is the voluntary recognition of a union by the employer [this rarely happens].
Workers who are in favor of the workers committee have never once asked other workers to sign union authorizations cards, nor will they. The workers committee is a different type of worker organization that is based on the right to engage in concerted activity outside of a union. It is comprised of rank and file workers who have solidarity with one another to provide support and protection against corporate and management misconduct. There is no need to hold an election in order to band together and organize for the interests of workers. The committee is born and lives through the collective action of coworkers, whether it’s through strikes against management abuse, the publication of the store newsletter, or sharing resources to support one another in everyday life both inside and outside of the workplace.
The workers committee is different from a formal union in many ways and based on the legitimate criticisms workers have towards unions. There is no third party coming in to add more bureaucracy and take worker’s pay through an automatic dues system. It is a rank and file initiative that’s entirely dependent on the participation of workers themselves and free of dues. It is democratic, it is grassroots, and it is necessary to have in every unorganized workplace in our community.
As a result of Target workers standing up and fighting for their rights to an abuse-free workplace and the right to freely associate and engage in concerted activity outside of a union they have opened up the space for a worker-friendly environment in the store free from intimidation and retaliation by management. The settlement stipulates that Target will not interfere with workers rights to strike, demonstrate, and assemble in non work areas of the store including the parking lot and store entrance where workers also have the right to engage Target customers and coworkers with any handbills or literature they may wish to distribute. Target has also committed to no longer threaten, intimidate, or spy on workers as they exercise their rights both on and off the clock. If Target decides to go against their word in the next six months they will automatically be penalized by the NLRB. This is a win for all workers across the New River Valley and the country. This is only one step in building an independent and militant working class movement.
Lets keep organizing for power!
Worker committees everywhere!
[if you or someone you know is experiencing disrespect or abuse in the workplace and want it to change for the better drop us a message and we will be glad to help however we can]