Unionization Campaign Launches at Target’s Warehouse Facility in Perth Amboy, New Jersey Amid Growing Concern Over Prison-Like Conditions that Harm Workers
Recent Target employees went public today with details of their mistreatment. They joined Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz and labor leaders to support a worker-led unionization drive.
Perth Amboy, New Jersey – Today, at a news conference, recent Target warehouse employees in Perth Amboy, New Jersey went public with details of their mistreatment on the job.
They described the prison-like conditions they worked under, and offered support for a unionization campaign led by current employees at Target’s Perth Amboy warehouse who want to improve their jobs and workplace conditions.
Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz joined this news conference to discuss Target’s failure to live up to a local Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) agreement in which the company is supposed to maintain harmonious labor relations and create good jobs for Perth Amboy residents.
Additionally, leaders and members of the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United/SEIU, condemned Target’s mistreatment of workers at its warehouse facility in Perth Amboy, and discuss the positive benefits of unionization for warehouse workers and their families.
Photos from this new event are attached to this email press release, and are available on Twitter here.
This is the first Target warehouse in the United States to face a public union organizing campaign. If successful, the unionization effort would set an immediate national precedent for e-commerce warehouse workers that other major companies, retailers, and brands would be pressured to follow.
In 2017, Target opened this Perth Amboy facility as a Flow Center – a new kind of warehouse Target designed specifically to provide smaller, more frequent shipments of products to the company’s growing number of small-format stores in New York City and e-commerce customers in the greater New York metro area.
This unionization campaign in Perth Amboy comes amid growing labor strife across Target’s workforce. Recently, Target’s retail employees released a national survey revealing key workplace challenges they face, and issued a set of demands calling for specific improvements to their jobs. At the same time, Target’s Shipt delivery app workers have described a culture of fear and retaliation.
“They treat us like robots and we feel like prisoners. If an emergency happens or our kids get sick at school, we are isolated until the end of the shift, powerless to help our families. No one gets out or gets connected to the outside world until finishing their shift. At Perth Amboy’s Target, many workers feel like prisoners, isolated from the outside world and under the constant harassment regarding production quotas,” said Ana Javier, who was an employee at Target’s Perth Amboy Flow Center from May 1 to November 1, 2019
“I don’t work at the Target warehouse any more. Favoritism got me fired, despite my experience and hard work. But I’m still convinced that Target needs to stop mistreating its workers. Target and the rest of the distribution centers in Perth Amboy must treat workers with dignity and respect. We deserve to be treated as human beings, not robots. We deserve to be valued and respected. Having a union is the way to ensure it. That’s how we’ll bring dignity back to an industry that keeps growing at the expense of the health and rights of workers from all backgrounds,” said Javier.
“I urge Target to commit to a fair process to allow the employees at this Perth Amboy facility to decide to join a union free of intimidation. The property that Target rents for the Perth Amboy Flow Center benefits from a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) Agreement that provides a reduction in local property taxes. My administration approved this PILOT Agreement in 2017 with the expectation that the developer of this property and tenants like Target would foster harmonious labor relations and create good, union jobs for Perth Amboy residents,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.
“Employment in e-commerce distribution centers is booming in New Jersey, thanks to our proximity to New York City, our ports, and our highways. It is my job as the Mayor of Perth Amboy to ensure that any tax incentives provided to developers result in tangible benefits including better wages, higher standards and an enhanced quality of life for those workers employed at e-commerce warehouse,” said Mayor Diaz.
“Our union represents several thousand warehouse workers in New Jersey, including hundreds of residents of Perth Amboy. Employees at Target’s Perth Amboy Flow Center started organizing last year, seeking to join our union in order to improve their working conditions. Instead of allowing employees to organize free of interference, Target Flow Center management has subjected workers to a number of anti-union captive audience meetings intended to thwart any efforts to organize with our union,” said Megan Chambers, Co-Manager of the Laundry, Distribution and Food Service Joint Board (LDFS Union), Workers United/SEIU.
“We are calling on Target to cease its anti-union campaign immediately. Additionally, we are urging Target to enter into a neutrality agreement with us that would allow our union representatives access to the Perth Amboy facility in an atmosphere free of intimidation. We want to give Target employees a quick and fair process to achieve collective bargaining rights through card check. We are grateful for Perth Amboy Mayor Diaz’s support. It means a lot to us and to the Target workers in Perth Amboy,” said Chambers.
The LDFS Union organizes and represents several thousand workers in New Jersey’s apparel and department store warehouses. Some of those warehouses support well-known apparel and retail brands such as Macy’s Logistics, H&M, and the massive GIII Apparel Group, which distributes Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger and others. In recent contract negotiations, the union has won fair schedules, higher wages, affordable health insurance, and full-time hours for its members in New Jersey. It hopes to build on that track record with the current Target warehouse worker organizing campaign in Perth Amboy.
The union’s members employed in New Jersey warehouse distribution centers represent a diverse cross-section of working class communities in New Jersey, including women and men, immigrants and US-born workers alike. They are actively involved in the Warehouse Workers Stand Up Coalition and the statewide effort to make warehouse jobs better and fairer for New Jersey residents.
New Jersey is widely seen as “the warehouse state”- a desirable location for major national retailers and corporations, including Target and Amazon, because of its warehouse facilities that can support large e-commerce operations and fast shipments to retail stores.