National Labor Relations Board overturns union election held last year at a Target store on Long Island, New York, orders new election; judge says retailer 'engaged in certain unfair labor practices'

NEW YORK , May 22, 2012 () – An administrative law judge from the National Labor Relations Board has overturned the union election last year at a Target store on New York's Long Island and ordered a new election citing unfair labor practices.

The decision comes almost a year after The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 contested the 137-85 vote against unionization in June 2011. It argued that Target illegally intimidated workers for months leading up to the vote. Target denied the allegations.

A "yes" vote would have made the store Target's first with a unionized workforce. Target has 1,700 stores, all in the U.S.

"Target completely poisoned the democratic process from day one," said Patrick Purcell, assistant to the president of the UFCW Local 1500 in an interview with The Associated Press. "And now a judge agreed with everything we said."

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said late Monday that the company "respectfully" disagrees with the decision.

"We firmly believe Target followed all the laws throughout the union's campaign at its Valley Stream store and that the process leading up to the June 2011 election was fair and legal," she said.

The company is evaluating the appropriate steps to take next, she said.

The Valley Stream, N.Y., store closed April 28 for "extensive renovations" and will reopen later this year, Snyder said. Target says that all eligible workers can transfer to other stores and transfer back to the Valley Stream store when it reopens.

The UFCW has contended the temporary closing came "in retaliation" for the unionization vote.

The UFCW charged that, before last year's vote, Target barred employees from wearing pro-union buttons and said those who spoke about the union would be fired. The union also said Target circulated fliers threatening employees that the Valley Stream store would close if employees voted to unionize.

In a 40-page decision issued by Steven Davis, administrative law judge for the NRLB in New York, said Target "engaged in certain unfair labor practices."

The ruling followed a 10-day trial earlier in the year.

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