Two years ago in 2017, Target took an apparent stand for its workers, announcing that it would raise its internal minimum wage to $15 an hour for all employees before the end of 2020. It was a popular move, earning the company a place on best-employer lists and helping push other large retailers to do the same.
However, now as we approach the beginning of 2020, employees of Target say they haven’t been helped by the increase in wages. Instead, stores are giving their employees fewer hours, making it difficult for anyone to get enough hours to pay their bills. Many have lost their benefits due to the lost hours, as Target only offers insurance enrollment to those working more than 30 hours a week, and that’s now very hard to attain.
All of this is happening while Target’s business is in the strongest position it has been in more than 10 years. This just proves that Target had no intention of ever increasing its employees’ wages to begin with; its big $15 an hour minimum wage announcement was nothing more than a publicity stunt, and now the company’s employees are hurting because of Target’s shenanigans.
“I got that dollar raise but I’m getting $200 less in my paycheck,” one employee from a Florida store told CNN. She says that she’s gone from 40 hours a week to less than 20 in the past eleven months. “I have no idea how I’m going to pay rent or buy food.”
One former store director from Ohio said that hours dropped for a number of reasons, including the introduction of self-checkout and elimination of back-room positions such as stockers. “Older cashiers were used to getting 30-some hours and they were getting less and less,” the former store director said. “They really cut those hours back from them with the introduction of self-checkout.”
“The company keeps hiring more and more people part-time,” said California Target staffer Lee Beecher, a member of United for Respect, a workers’ advocacy group. Beecher has seen his average hours drop, too, and he’s now looking for other work. “I’m a loyal employee,” he said. “I’m trying to pick up a second job for the hours I’m not getting at my current job.”
A spokesperson for Target confirmed that the company has been decreasing its payroll, specifically the hours allotted to each store for floor workers, but declined to share any specific numbers.
Workers who report their hours being cut say that their stores have eliminated some shifts entirely, particularly night shifts, making their jobs an additional responsibility for customer-facing employees without giving them any more time to do it. When additional hours are available, they say, the stores hires part-timers to fill them, instead of giving more hours to fewer employees who would then be eligible for benefits.
Tony, a Target worker in Pennsylvania, told CNN that a higher hourly wage “really doesn’t help much when [I’m] only doing 20 to 30 hours a week.”
Target’s hardly alone in this. This sort of worker exploitation is exceedingly common in our current brand of capitalism. But this move by Target is especially frustrating because it spoke long and loud not so long ago about being loyal to its employees and treating them as valued members of their business. It’s a betrayal, and it will hurt Target in the long run.
Photo: A We’re Hiring sign for Target stores placed outside the entrance to the big-box department store. Credit: melissamn / Shutterstock.comBottom of Form