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Zellers workers apply to keep unionized status under Target

Target Corp. is looking to prevent Zellers employees from keeping their union status.

Currently some 15 of the 135 Zellers stores are unionized.

Zellers stores will be convereted to Target by 2013 with newly hired non-unionized staff.

In Canada, there are labour laws that state a successor company in a takeover has to hold on to a union if the firm is operating in the same area, according to a Globe and Mail article.

In a test case, the union has applied to the B.C. Labour Relations Board to declare Target as the “successor employer” to Zellers at a Burnaby, B.C. outlet, keeping the employees unionized.

Some say this could be the beginning of a big battle.

In the past, Target and Walmart have gone against the United Food and Commercial Workers for years as the union has tried to organize each of these companies’ employees to improve wages and working conditions.

Experts say Target needs to remain union free to maintain its low-cost operating model that keeps costs down.

In the Globe and Mail, Lisa Gibson, a spokeswoman for Target, said Target will contest the union’s B.C. application and the firm believes its $1.8-billion acquisition of Zellers leases “is a real estate transaction and not the acquisition of a business, technology or employees. As such, we do not believe Target is a successor employer under applicable law and do not believe that there was reasonable cause to file a successorship application.”

The successor dispute started when the union wanted to negotiate a renewal of its existing contract, and Target challenged the successorship, union spokesman Andy Neufeld said to the Globe and Mail.

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