Target's union-busting tactics in Virginia exposed in leaked audio

Christiansburg, Virginia - Leaked audio reveals Target management taking extreme measures to discourage workers in Virginia from unionizing.

A newly leaked recording shows the lengths Target managers went to to dissuade workers at a store in Virginia from unionizing.
A newly leaked recording shows the lengths Target managers went to to dissuade workers at a store in Virginia from unionizing.  © STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

Leaked audio of a captive-audience meeting shows how Target managers interacted with workers at Store 1292 in Christiansburg, Virginia, during their union campaign. The store's petition for a union election was reportedly withdrawn on Wednesday.

Two managers can be heard speaking in the recording, which was shared on social media on Thursday.

"It's really important that you know what you guys sign and that you protect your signature, you protect your name, and then again, say what you feel in the moment, not be represented for something that you don't want," the first manager says after insinuating that union representatives will repeatedly contact individual workers through private channels.

Fourth of July: Abortion rights activists give a new meaning to Independence Day
Activism Fourth of July: Abortion rights activists give a new meaning to Independence Day

The second manager, referred to as Ben, claims that unions will force workers to pay dues and initiation fees, which could amount to "over $500."

"Right now, especially as times are as tight as they are, I'd definitely check to make sure this is the best decision for yourselves," he continues.

Those statements are blatantly false, as one worker points out in the recording. Virginia is a right-to-work state, meaning that even if the store voted to unionize, workers, by law, would not be required to join the union or pay dues. He adds that union dues can be "as little as $6 per month," and can even be waived in cases of financial need. "I just don't appreciate the misinformation being spread here," he says.

Target Workers Unite announced via Twitter that they had filed unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the company's actions in captive-audience meetings and beyond. In addition to "coercive statements" made in those meetings, organizers at the store have accused company representatives of "interrogating workers individually about their sympathies with collective bargaining, as well as spying on workers."

They said the current charges come in addition to previous ULP complaints already filed with the agency.

Cover photo: STEFANI REYNOLDS / AFP

More on the topic Activism: