Alt Labor organizations, like the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, have long been known to be an outreach arm of organized labor. Operating in the background, they have continued to escape scrutiny of the rules and disclosure requirements that traditional unions are subject to (click here to view eight such entities, including some new upstarts).

The DOL has finally decided to scrutinize these non-union unions.  A Minneapolis worker center, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (Center of Workers United in Struggle), was the subject of a two-year investigation after it successfully forced Target and other retailers to hire unionized janitors. Conclusion: the CTUL is a labor organization. If this finding becomes official, the organization would be treated like any other labor union, would have to start filing detailed financial disclosures and could be restricted in its advocacy activities.

On August 15, OLMS Detroit-Milwaukee District Director, Thomas Murray, sent a letter to CTUL. The letter stated that the group has members who pay voluntary annual dues of $50 in order to be designated as “ally members” who have the right to vote on organization decisions.

According to Murray, “CTUL appears to employ multiple pressure tactics against Target and other employers to advance the interests of employees with regard to workplace conditions and actions, as well as possible employer criminal violations.”

That includes holding strikes, pickets, and press conferences, displaying banners outside of retail stores, distributing fliers, and protesting shareholder meetings.

“These provisions indicate that CTUL exists, at least in part, for the purpose of dealing with employers concerning wages, rates of pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.”

According to the groups bylaws, the group’s purpose is to organize low-wage workers across Minneapolis.

Sound like a union to you?