Target workers have been organizing since 4Q of 2021 around hazard pay for the persistence of COVID19 across our workplaces. Target tried to pay us off with a $2 dollar holiday pay, but it has fallen far short of the $2 dollar hazard pay we’ve demanded since starting our campaign leading into the holiday season. This was before we even knew about the Omicron variant, which has proven to be highly infectious, and leading to the largest outbreaks among Target workers since the COVID19 pandemic began.
We’ve lost count how many cases have been reported in stores and distribution centers across Target since Omicron emerged. Now is the worst it’s ever been during this pandemic, yet we aren’t provided hazard pay (we never were in the first place) while not having the luxury of working from home like many white collar Target workers and the executives receive. Many Target team members have resigned themselves to this new normal and have been bought off by measly wage increases that don’t account for the 7% to 10% inflation we’ve been blindsided with.
How is a starting wage of $16 supposed to match our ever-increasing costs of living? All the while we have to deal with the routine procedure of cut hours and shrunken payroll at the stores during Q1, which makes it even harder to afford our costs of living.
Target workers who are committed to economic justice haven’t been dissuaded by superficial gestures and have continued on with organizing efforts as multiple unfair labor practices are pending with the National Labor Relations Board.
Recently a sympathetic member of management leaked to us emails and trainings issued to intimidate workers from exercising our rights. The screenshots below feature the latest anti-worker and anti-union training management must take across Target workplaces.
The reader can see multiple instances in this training of management being encouraged to be proactive and look for “subtle signs of dissatisfaction” among workers that would make us prone to exercise our rights. They mischaracterize us as a “third party” despite being the actual workers of Target.
The training instructs managers that the problem of worker organizing is that it will “reduce flexibility” – meaning workers won’t be as easily exploited if we regulate our jobs more – that we will “increase operational costs” – meaning that workers will receive a larger share of the wealth we produce through our labor (and less for executives and the major shareholders), and create “conflict between management and employees” – as if the conflict isn’t already present and lopsided in favor of management and the corporation. Target’s philosophy is inherently anti-worker, and anti-labor organizing.
Target does understand the importance of organizing, they want organizing done by management for the interests of the corporation, not for the interests of Target workers. This is why they emphasize in their training that management must build personal connections and relationships with each individual worker to discourage us from exercising our rights.
The training encourages management to keep tabs on all of us, while forcing fake positivity that downplays our economic reality as non-management workers who are not compensated nearly enough as so-called “essential workers.”
The training lists off various “red flags” that should concern management, such as “small gatherings,” “expressions of negative sentiment,” “changes in behaviors with leadership,” and “unusual activities.” According to the training this includes “attempting to influence the team,” “soliciting concerns,” “speaking on behalf of others,” meeting with “recently terminated persons,” “talking with others before or after shifts in the parking lot,” the appearance of “team members dividing into two hostile groups,” “anti Target or pro union graffiti,” “anti Target conversations happening on social media,” “the rumor mill becoming more active or very quiet,” “TMs participating in social media as the topics become work related,” “break room conversations changing from weekend activities, social engagements, and athletic events to pay and benefits plans, job security, seniority systems, and/or grievances,” “TMs ask argumentative or controversial questions at huddles,” “TM complaints increase and the nature changes, group complaints begin to appear,” “sudden increase in requests for copies of corrective actions,” “friendly TMs suddenly stop engaging TLs,” “TMs in deep conversations suddenly clam up when TLs approach,” or “handbills are put on cars in the TM parking area.”
The training emphasizes management should confront workers who are engaging in any of these behaviors to “let them know you are open to hearing any concerns,” which is just a roundabout way to let workers know management is watching and taking notes to report back to corporate.
The training encourages management to use whatever tactics necessary to convince workers that they’re receptive to worker issues, to “apologize” for problems and to excuse corporate policy. But we all know worksite managers have little authority to address systemic issues across Target. Management will never be in a position to meet our demands, but moreso try to placate us and emotionally manipulate us into ceasing our efforts for economic justice.
Target relies on exploiting personal relationships with management in order to stop workers so as not to “hurt” management, while doing nothing to address the underlying economic issues created by the executives and major shareholders who rake in the profits off the backs of Target workers.
It must never be forgotten that management always receives better pay and benefits than non-management workers, in large part because management must do the dirty work for corporate to stop workers from getting a larger slice of the pie we made in the first place.
Corporate wants workers to believe that management has our best interests at heart and that they are on our side yet constantly instruct management to spy on us and prevent any ability for workers to exercise our rights and organize ourselves for our interests away from management influence.
The training even provides hypothetical situations for management to consider as to how they will react when workers stand up. This includes such bizarre examples as stopping food drives, using social media to air group grievances, hiding pertinent information from workers, and keeping workers from speaking out collectively during team meetings. The trainings are all about stopping workers from acting collectively and all about keeping workers separated and individualized so we’re easier to control and manipulate.
Target Workers Unite, and the sympathetic member of management who leaked this to us, provide this information as to better prepare workers while exposing how Target tries to manipulate workers from exercising our rights to win economic justice.
A explicit feature missing from this anti-worker training is that management cannot Threaten, Intimidate, make Promises, or Spy on Target workers. A common acronym known as T.I.P.S. There are references to these points such as watching worker activity on social media, but this would also include management even asking workers about their sympathies with petitions, organizing, or unions. Workers CANNOT be questioned about involvement in exercising their rights, whether it be signing a petition, making a post on facebook, speaking to press, signing an authorization card, etc. Workers CANNOT be told to not discuss wages or bonuses with others!
Workers have the right to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board up to six months after the time of the violation by management regarding any of the above examples. This isn’t to say management won’t retaliate on workers anyways, but if workers know their rights it’s much easier to know how to exercise them and defend against retaliation. Winning settlements through the NLRB establishes new standards at our workplaces where management agrees not to violate our rights. This gives workers space to more easily organize without fear and intimidation.
Other things that must be kept in mind when using our rights is that management will look at ways to discipline workers over their performance – such as tardiness, or not performing duties – in order to issue three corrective actions and terminate workers. It’s a roundabout way to retaliate without being considered retaliation. But even then it must not be discriminatory, all workers must be held to the same standards and any variation can be argued to be selective enforcement. Be sure to call the NLRB with any questions regarding your rights.