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Long Island Target Store May Be The First To Unionize

VALLEY STREAM, NY (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A big union vote is expected Friday night at a Long Island Target store.

It could be a historic vote at the Valley Stream Target if the 260 workers approve a vote to unionize the store.

This is the first union vote Target has faced in two decades and if workers vote "yes," the store will be the first of the company's 1,700 locations to bring in organized labor. The vote could have a ripple effect in the U.S. retail industry

So why are workers unhappy?

WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports: Target Employees Divided On Union Decision


Employee Charmaine Brown says she wants to unionize because she's making less than $10 an hour and working only 15 hours per week.

"I am bringing home $150 every two weeks," said Brown who is also on food stamps. "How am I supposed to pay my rent?"

Since about two dozen workers from the Valley Stream store approached the union with their grievances, Target employees from around the country have been reaching out to the labor organization, according to Patrick Purcell, spokesman for the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 1500.

"We're looking at the beginning of a national movement in Target stores," he says. "This is just the first step."

But employee Betsy Wilson said she loves Target and says she even received a raise a few months ago and doesn't think a union is necessary.

"What I am afraid of is them coming in here speaking for us," said Wilson. "I don't need anybody to speak for me."

Target has been taking steps of its own. The Minneapolis-based retailer has representatives going door to door in Valley Stream, distributing flyers to educate workers on the downside of unionization and is calling meetings with workers to answer questions. In a handout addressing whether the company would shut down the Valley Stream store if workers unionize, Target said: "There are no guarantees."

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said Target seeks to create a workplace in which employees don't need union representation. "Target believes in solving issues and concerns by working together," she says.

The vote is expected to be very close. Voting ends at about 11:30pm with results expected to be announced by 1am Saturday.

What do you think? Sound off below in our comments section...

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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