The National Labor Relations Board has ordered a second union vote for workers at a Valley Stream Target store, affirming most of a regional judge's conclusion that Target Corp. violated several labor laws in the run-up to a union election two years ago. The situation, however, is far from resolved.
The NLRB agreed with Administrative Law Judge Steven Davis, saying the results of the June 17, 2011, election must be set aside. Of about 268 eligible voters, 85 cast their ballots for the union, and 137 voted against joining.
Both the NLRB and Davis said Target had acted unlawfully, pointing to "a coercive interrogation, a threat of unspecified reprisals and the distribution to employees of a leaflet that unlawfully implied a threat to close the store if employees selected the union."
Minneapolis-based Target says the national board doesn't have the authority to make such a ruling. The company cites a federal appeals court decision invalidating President Barack Obama's "recess" appointments to the NLRB and therefore the board's ruling in another company's case.
"We respectfully disagree with the NLRB's ruling and, in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit ruling that the NLRB has no authority to act since its members have not been selected in accordance with the law, we are evaluating our next steps," Target spokeswoman Amy Reilly said Thursday.
The union involved, United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500, still views the NLRB ruling as a victory, although officials acknowledge they are bracing for more legal appeals from Target.
"I think what Target needs to do, what we are encouraging shareholders to tell Target to do, is respect the decisions made by the regional National Labor Relations Board, an administrative law judge and the National Labor Relations Board in Washington," said Patrick Purcell, a spokesman for UFCW Local 1500. "All three said [Target] was guilty."
In the meantime, the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the federal appeals court decision, known as the Noel Canning ruling. Of the three NLRB members who ruled in the Target case, two were Obama's recess appointments.
Earlier this year, Obama renominated all three current board members and nominated two more candidates to fill the five-member board.
Target can contest the NLRB decision in a federal appeals court. The regional Brooklyn office of the NLRB said it will ask Target in writing to comply with the decision.
If Target refuses, the regional office can ask a federal appeals court to enforce the decision, which also requires the company to revamp its employee handbook and post information about labor law for its employees.