Workers at a Target Corp discount store in New York voted to reject union representation in what would have been the first unionized Target store in the country, while union officials vowed to press for another election.
Employees at the Valley Stream, New York, store voted against union affiliation, 137-85, Target said in a statement released Saturday. The vote was taken on Friday.
"We are looking forward to having another election," said Aly Waddy, director of special projects for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, which wanted to represent workers at the store, located about 15 miles east of Manhattan.
"We are definitely going to be invested in this campaign until we make sure the workers can finally have a fair and free election," Waddy said.
Target employs thousands of workers at 27 stores in the New York City area. The Minneapolis-based company has about 1,755 U.S. stores and none have union-represented employees.
The vote was part of a closely watched battle over unionization in the retail sector.
"At Target, it has always been our goal to have a culture where our team members don't want or need union representation," Derek Jenkins, Target senior vice president of stores in the northeastern United States, said in a statement.
"The Valley Stream Target store is filled with a team of dedicated, enthusiastic team members. We want to thank the team for their faith and confidence in Target," Jenkins said.
Target and the union had already filed unfair labor practice charges against each other with the National Labor Relations Board, according to an agency spokesman, and more charges are likely.
Waddy said some store employees were told the store could close or that they could be replaced if they voted for unionization. The store also rented vans, manned by security guards, to take the employees to work to vote, she said.
"There was a serious level of tension in the store and, obviously, the company ran a really aggressive campaign," Waddy said. "A lot of people were taken aback by the fact that they thought the store was going to close."
Union members make up a small percentage of U.S. retail workers, and the percentage fell to 4.7 percent last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For a graphic on union membership, click here: http://r.reuters.com/xyr22s
Retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart Stores Inc have long resisted having employees represented by unions at their stores.