Target stores, long seen as an alternative to Walmart for people who object to the retailer's publicized anti-union stance, is now itself showing its true colors of how it feels about unions. Following a story about employees at Target stores in New York state wanting to join the grocery union, an anti-union training video for employees is now circulating the Internet.
The video entitled "Think Hard Before You Sign" begins innocuous enough, starting with the typical talk addressing a newly hired team member, pumping them up for their new job. But almost two minutes in the language veers towards propaganda and the 'target' becomes clear -- unions, specifically grocery store unions and how they are supposedly bad for business.
The video uses a lot of questionable argumentation to persuade the viewer that joining a union is bad for the employee and is bad for the business. The video blatantly says that unions are only about collecting money from members. "Fewer members is a problem for the union business. A union is a business... a union's only source of income is from its members... Money for initiation, dues, fines, assessments... you get the picture."
A specific claim made in the video is that not having a union means employees can "get more hours." Ironically, not getting enough hours is the exact reason the New York state employees want to join a union because they were not getting enough hours!
The video goes on to engage stereotypes of union organizers, with one of the speakers saying. "That won't be what a union organizer tells you though. You mean hear, 'Just sign the card, everyone else is doing it.'"
A question as to whether or not the video crosses any legal lines is also in the air. Employment attorney Marshall Tanick told the local Fox TV affiliate in Target's home city of Minneapolis that it could be used in a lawsuit.
"It certainly has a tendency to discourage people," said Tanick, of the video. "Whether it crosses the legal line or not remains to be seen, but it comes pretty close."
The video tries to tip-toe this line, with the company's director of labor relations Jim Rowader saying, "It's important for you to know Target's philosophy on unions. I'm Jim Rowader. Team members have the right to join unions -- but they also have the right not to join a union."
However, it's clear that the long-enjoyed moral high ground that Target held over Walmart is quickly eroding.