Rally Outside Target Corporate Headquarters Cites Retail Giant as Common Roadblock to Economic Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 26, 2013
Contact: Greta Bergstrom, 651.336.6722, greta@takeactionminnesota.org


Unlock Minnesota’s Future Rally Asks Target to “Be Leader Minnesota Needs To Help Struggling Minnesota Economy”

Minneapolis, MN (February 26, 2013) – On the second day of the “Unlock Our Future” week of action, close to three hundred individuals descended on the Nicollet Mall headquarters of Target Corporation, most members of organizations for whom Target has been a common roadblock to economic security, fair hiring, better wages and working conditions for workers of color. Those attending were united in their belief that Target must make significant, but not necessarily costly, changes to improve economic stability across Minnesota.

Justin Terrell, Justice 4 All Program Manager for TakeAction Minnesota got the crowd revved up announcing the release of a new report on the Minnesota retailer’s hiring and employment practices. Terrell told the assembled crowd that “Target’s not living up to its image. Our communities are suffering and we’re all here today because we expect Target to step up and be the leader Minnesota needs. As Minnesota’s fourth largest employer, today is an opportunity for Target to make changes and lead.”

The report, entitled “Expect More! How Target Chooses to Shortchange Minnesota’s Communities of Color” details concerns regarding Target’s treatment of people of color, immigrant workers and failures to deliver on promises made to local communities in exchange for millions in local tax revenue. It was prepared by the five primary organizers of Tuesday’s rally, including Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, SEIU Local 26, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and CTUL. A PDF of the report can be found here: http://action.mnfaireconomy.org/page/-/expectmorereport.pdf

Speaker after speaker told the crowd that Target doesn’t live up to the community-minded image it projects. In particular, Target has not been the leader Minnesota needs to reduce racial jobs disparities in the state and ensure that workers are treated fairly and provided safe working conditions. In particular, organizers want Target to change specific business practices that currently:

  • Enable Minnesota’s “worst-in-the-nation” racial jobs gap by their refusal to interview or hire individuals with criminal records in their past, despite being qualified
  • Doesn’t hire cleaning contractors that respect the right of its workers to organize or pay their workers living wages
  • Refuse to bargain with over two-thousand security officers who have worked without a contract for two months and who want secure, good-paying jobs with benefits
  • Use tax loopholes and corporate tax havens to avoid paying its fair share of tax revenue to the state of Minnesota
  • Doesn’t deliver on promises of local job creation despite taking over twenty million dollars from Brooklyn Park

Harrison Bullard, a SEIU Local 26 security officer from Minneapolis who has worked for seven years for a subcontractor at the Hennepin County Government Center, said he wants to see the industry change. “I’ve worked in this industry for nearly twenty-five years. It’s a great job, and it could be something people retire from. We need it to become a great job to support the middle class again.”

Bullard told the crowd he was outraged that Target CEO Greg Steinhafel makes $9,600 per hour while CTUL cleaners only make $9 per hour. “I’m here today to stand with CTUL cleaners , mostly immigrant workers, who are being treated unfairly and deserve to make more than poverty-level wages. And they have the same roadblock as the janitors and security officers from Local 26 – Target Corporation.”

“Local 26 janitors got a good deal last weekend, why can’t the janitors from CTUL?” Bullard continued. “They do the same work. They deserve the same deal. And my fellow security officers from Local 26 also deserve a great deal.”

Minnetonka resident Kissy Mason, who recently filed a complaint against Target with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), said she wants Target to step up and adopt the EEOC’s fair hiring practices so that those with a criminal record in their past aren’t automatically excluded from being interviewed or hired at Target. “I was qualified but because of my record, Target rescinded the job offer they made me. I expect more of Target. I want them to adopt our fair hiring practices and give us a fair shot at employment. We’re ready to work.”

Lucila Dominguez, a cleaner CTUL leader spoke of her struggle in trying to earn a living and her ultimate decision to go on strike. “All of my co-workers face the same low wages and have a workload that is more than we can finish in the six hours we are given to clean a store. Our workload is too high. Our wages are too low. That’s why we have been organizing to improve our wages and working conditions. Now that we are organized, our employers have started threatening and retaliating against some workers.”

“Target’s Market Pantry brand of sugar is just Crystal Sugar in another wrapper,” said Becki Knapper-Jacobson, a thirty-year employee of American Crystal Sugar’s Moorhead factory who has been locked out of work for the past nineteen months. “It seems to me like Target is proving to be just another greedy corporation that’s forgotten where it’s from. Minnesotans rightly expect more from Minnesota employers. That’s why so many have joined us in boycotting Target’s Market Pantry sugar.” Knapper-Jacobson wants Target to respect the consumer boycott of Crystal Sugar products, which began last October, by removing Crystal Sugar products from its shelves.

Brooklyn Park resident, Nelima Sitati, who is a member of the Northwest Community Collaborative (NWCC), told the crowd that she believes Brooklyn Park is giving Target much more than it is giving back to the community–reneging on its promise of creating one-thousand new jobs for Brooklyn Park residents despite taking more than twenty-million in public subsidies. “I guess Target is good enough to take our money but we’re not good enough to be given their jobs.”

As the rally wrapped up, striking cleaners from CTUL headed back to join their fellow workers on the picket line in front of Target’s downtown retail store a block away. More actions are planned for the remaining days of the “Unlock Our Future” week of

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