Target workers in Brooklyn successfully organize 'microunion'

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Unionization in America continued its steady decline in 2014.

But between Silicon Valley bus drivers, hospital workers and digital newsrooms, there are signs the slide may be slowing.

Now, there's another datapoint: Reuters' Nandita Bose reports that a group of pharmacists at a Target store in Brooklyn have successfully formed a "microunion," after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) approved their unionization vote.

Microunions are subgroups of workers who choose to organize in a way that actively excludes other employees at a company. The point is to create a more nimble bargaining group with people whose interests are closely aligned.


In 2011, the NLRB issued a ruling upholding microunions' legality. The first prominent microunion formed since the ruling—besides the one that led to the case in the first place—was created in 2014 by cosmetics and fragrances workers at a store in Saugus, Massachusetts, but there haven't been many other examples since.

Today's ruling forms part of the trend of alternative forms of organizing that have sprung up in recent years. Among them, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union's Retail Action Project helped workers at a Zara outlet in New York win higher wages. The union-led Fight For $15 movement has helped do the same for fast-food workers.

Workers affiliated with unions earn, on average, 27% more than non-union members. As wages have stagnated, the urgency of finding ways to boost them has become more pronounced.

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Women in unions earn 32 percent more than non-unionized women, and 8 percent more than non-unionized men (and 4 percent more than all men).

Representatives for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which supported the Target vote, weren't immediately available for comment on the Target news. It's the the first organized labor unit at a Target store since its inception in 1902, according to Reuters.


Target told the wire service it was "disappointed" by the vote.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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