Workers at a Target fulfillment center in New Jersey are considering union representation, stirring up labor issues for the retailer as it reworks its supply chain to move inventory closer to customers and better integrate its store and online channels, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
Former employers staged a rally at the facility in Perth Amboy, NJ today, and have met with city as well as union officials to complain about working conditions, MyCentralJersey reported.
The issue has arisen as complaints increase about working conditions at ecommerce fulfillment centers, including long hours without breaks, allegedly unsafe conditions and rising productivity requirements as demand increases.
In addition to Target, Amazon and FedEx have both been facing union organizing efforts, which they have successfully repulsed to date. FedEx’s recent decision to have its Ground division handle some Express shipments has some labor experts saying it could open the door to unionization, which the company denies, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Amazon’s decision to pull out of a planned headquarters in New York last year was based in large part on extreme heat it was facing from local politicians and union organizers about working conditions of its fulfillment center associates – despite its $15 per hour minimum wage.
A representative of an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union told the WSJ that some workers at the Target “flow center” in Perth Amboy, NJ have complained about the difficult working conditions, such as production quotas, long shifts and unfair scheduling practices. Target is testing the flow center concept at the New Jersey location as a way to forward position inventory and more efficiently handle store and online orders from a single facility.
A Target spokeswoman told the WSJ it has “a long history of investing in our team and creating a safe work environment of mutual trust where our team members don’t want or need union representation. We’re aware that this group has been contacting Target team members in Perth Amboy, and we’ve consistently heard from our team that they’re not interested in being represented by this union.”