Tashawna Green earlier this year outside the Valley Stream, N.Y., target. Before the election, she’d spoken publicly of Target’s unwillingness to give employees enough hours to support their families.

Howard Schnapp, Newsday

Target fires worker who sought union

  • Article by: JIM SPENCER
  • Star Tribune
  • August 17, 2011 - 4:10 PM

Target Corp. fired one of its employees who led a recent unsuccessful effort to unionize a store in the New York City suburbs.

Aided by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union Chapter 1500 (UFCW), Tashawna Green, 21, last week appealed her termination to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). She asked for reinstatement to her job until an administrative law judge hears her case.

Target said Tuesday that Green's dismissal was based on her personal behavior, not her union organizing. "This team member recently acted in an overly hostile, disruptive manner that is inconsistent with Target's policies and therefore her employment was terminated," the company said in a statement.

Stakes were high

Workers at the Target store in Valley Stream, N.Y., rejected the union 137-85 -- the first time in 14 years that Target faced a union vote. Had the union prevailed, the Valley Stream store would have become the first in Target's history to be unionized. Some experts said the stakes were high, suggesting that a victory could inspire a domino effect of union successes in big retail.

In the run-up to the Valley Stream election, Green, a single mother, spoke publicly about what she said was Target's unwillingness to give employees enough hours to support their families. Her picture appeared in newspapers, including the Star Tribune.

“I feel like I lost my job because I was a union supporter,” Green said in an interview Wednesday. After the election “I treated customers the same way. I’m very polite. I dropped whatever I was doing to help them.”

Green denied being hostile to anyone. “I got pulled into the office for not saying hi to my team leader. My team leader complained that I wasn’t attending team huddles. I was working to finish what I was doing.”

Green said Target officials accused her of spreading a rumor that all Jamaican workers would be fired. Green said she heard the rumor from others and confirmed that she had heard the rumor when asked about. After an Aug. 5 run-in with management left her in tears, Green said she was told to go home. A human resources official called her the next morning, Green said, and told her she had been dismissed. “She said something about my behavior.”

Union officials claim that after the organizing election failed, Target singled Green out.

"They've been calling her into the office for many weeks," said UFCW special projects director Aly Waddy. "The level of harassment was unbelievable. She was written up for not being friendly to management."

The union included its appeal of Green's firing among several unfair labor charges that it hopes will persuade the NLRB to schedule a new election. Target has filed charges against the union with the NLRB as well.

Jim Spencer • 202-408-2752

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