Day After Employees Vote to Unionize, Target Announces Fleet of Robot Workers|
That escalated quickly.
Last week it was reported that the pharmacists had submitted their initial “microunion” filing with the National Labor Relations Board after an initial ballot vote was passed 7 -2. The filing was noteworthy as the workers become the first union at any Target store since the retailer opened in 1902.
Yet, less than a week later, in a seemingly unrelated press release, Casey Carl, the Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at Target announced the company’s plan to develop automation systems and replace workers with robots in their retail locations as part of a new program with Techstars, an industry leader with a reputation for accelerating startups.
“We know that technology will continue to revolutionize retail, and that Target’s future will be built on innovation. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with Techstars and invite the world’s most promising startups to work with Target right in our backyard.”
For the last few years, Target has been increasing their share of the e-commerce sector since taking back control of their digital fulfillment from Amazon, which also uses robot workers. But now, they are looking to integrate that portion of their business with their brick and mortar locations to create a speedy grocery delivery service, which will require an even greater investment in technology.
That, combined with groups and politicians working towards a $15 per hour minimum wage, has pushed Target to announce that within two years they will have a “concept store” open that will include robots instead of associates.
Large corporations such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have been using the threat of “automated workers” for years to keep wages low and suppress union growth within their stores, but have so far been unsuccessful in automating the “customer service” portion of their operations.