Fellow Target Team Member Lisa Piko Wahl is a 10 year veteran who currently works POG/Pricing at Target store #2070 in Grove City, Ohio. We interviewed her to learn more about what’s going on at her store and how it relates to all Target stores across the country.
TWU: Lisa, having worked for Target for so long what are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years?
Lisa: When I started 10 years ago, Target was a fun place to work. Presentation Team Members worked Monday through Friday (except for 4th quarter) and got 40 hours/week almost every week except for a few slow weeks in February and June. I was the only member of POG who worked part-time hours (my choice). Target was proud to be “Family Friendly” and hired some people as full-time. TL’s happily adjusted the schedule if you had an important family event.
When POG workload was small, you were encouraged to cross train and then you could pick up hours in another work center. We knew ahead of time which weeks would have low hours. Now team members will be scheduled 38 hours one week and then get 12 hours the next week. We’ve been told that “nobody is full-time except management.” It’s tough on people who live paycheck to paycheck when you don’t have a reliable income.
Executives don’t seem to understand this. Their standard response is, “We can’t add any hours. Check the swap board.” In the past 3 years or so there have been increasingly more low hour weeks despite our store meeting or surpassing sales goals. Another big change is the workload. It seems like every day we’re asked to add more responsibilities to our day and still get everything finished “100%” and clock out on time. It is so incredibly stressful!
TWU: Do you think Target has changed for the better?
Lisa: In some ways, yes, but mostly no. I think Target kind of turned the retail world on its head when it forged partnerships with top designers. Some collections have sold out in hours. Quite a risk but this endeavor generated a lot of good publicity (and sales!) for Target.
Target has created some great store brands that are selling well. Another good change came as corporate invested money in remodeling stores across the nation (you can read more here).
With all of the good that has happened in the last 10 years there have been plenty of changes that aren’t working and are hurting morale.
There’s a poster hanging in our Team Member area that says “Fail fast.” I take it to mean that if you try something and it doesn’t work out, then move on. Don’t keep investing time and resources on a failed endeavor. Target has made some major changes in store processes and has even eliminated entire teams at some stores. It’s added a lot of stress, confusion and quite honestly made it more difficult to get things done. Team members are expected to tackle more tasks than ever during their shifts.
During the busy holiday season, our store would routinely not schedule a cart attendant until late afternoon. Some days there was only one cashier for the whole morning. That means that team members not only have to complete tasks in their work centers but some days they also have to take part in a cart scramble once (or twice) each day, respond to back up at check lanes, provide great guest service, help answer phones and participate in a “smart huddle” usually pushing either One Spot or frozen product in market. A member of the POG team not only has to be prepared to do all of the above but also has to set their planograms, remove re-shop and clearance, pull and push their batches, do price accuracy, take care of the backstock, print signs, create an EXF batch for any outs, pull and push that…and…sometimes cover breaks and lunches for other work centers. When the store is busy it’s extremely difficult to get everything done while keeping the guests first.
Target used to accept new hires no matter how varied their availability. Now an applicant must have totally open availability or they won’t be hired. It’s difficult to plan your life if you don’t know from week to week what shift you’ll be working or how many hours that you’ll get. I’m fortunate that I already had my limited availability approved a long time ago so my schedule doesn’t change much (I want to be home when my kids get home from school.)
Corporate seems to be increasingly laser focused on cutting payroll. Even though our store rocketed past the sales goal for Black Friday and we had tons of guest traffic all season, hours were still cut in the 2 weeks leading up to Christmas. There were so many times that we didn’t make a sale because there weren’t enough people scheduled to keep up with OPU, Drive-up, truck unload and push, re-shop and backstock. There were whole pallets just sitting in the backroom that never made it to the sales floor.
A good portion of that product went salvage without a guest ever having a chance to purchase it. It seems to me that adding payroll would have kept the store better stocked so that we could have had even greater sales. One last change that has been both good and bad. Target raised the starting wage- Good! But then Target cut hours for a lot of team members- Very Bad! Essentially many team members made more money at a lower wage because they got more hours. A raise that leads to a cut in pay?!?!? That’s incredibly sad.
TWU: What issues have you and your Team members been dealing with lately?
Lisa: With team members getting fewer hours, average hours have fallen and the few people who have insurance are in danger of losing it. (When Obamacare rolled out, Target made changes that made fewer team members eligible for health benefits.) Morale is the lowest that I’ve ever seen it. People joke that we met our sales goal company wide so we get to wear jeans. Executives get big monetary bonuses. Such a disparity!
The team leads at the store don’t address issues that are concerning team members. They say that all of the changes are from corporate and that there is nothing they can do about it. It is what it is. We have no information about upcoming changes, just that there will be changes so “be prepared.”
TWU: You’ve mentioned before that you and other team members approached management about issues in the store, were made promises and yet things stayed the same. Why do you think that is?
Lisa: This is a difficult question to answer. STL’s and ETL’s probably feel a lot of pressure to meet goals set by corporate but I don’t understand why they don’t stand-up for the people who work in the store. After all, we are called “Team Members” not “employees” so you would think that those in charge would act in the best interests of the team. Honestly I think that the people at the top don’t have a clear understanding of what life is like for hourly team members and their attitudes flow down to the store level. Let me explain a little more in depth. On September 25, 2017, Target announced that wages would be raised to $15 by the end of 2020 (you can find the news release here.)
What is not mentioned in the news release is that the first pay bump took place right before the holidays (great incentive to get people to fill out applications for seasonal work.) New hires started at $11/hour and team members making less than that were bumped up to $11. Those of us already making $11 or a little more kept the same pay rate. You don’t feel very respected or appreciated if you’ve worked hard for over 8 years, cross-trained for other work centers and you keep the same pay when team members with 3 months experience get $1 raise.
When veteran team members talked to the HR ETL and other ETL’s, we were told to “hang in there”. The word from corporate is that you’ll be taken care of when reviews happen.” When April rolled around and reviews were given, I earned a 33 cent raise (which unbelievable as it sounds is a “great” raise by Target standards.) My raise took my hourly rate to $12.08. News hires are now at $12. Veterans had been told that we would get our raises on top of the bump but that turned out to not be true. So essentially I got an 8 cent raise for doing a great job all year and new team members got a $1 raise just because.
TWU: After seeing what team members can accomplish with Target Workers Unite do you think it is important for more team members to get involved? Why?
Lisa: Alone we are having a difficult time being heard but as a group, as a TEAM, we can make the work environment a better place while keeping Target on the road to success.
TWU: So you think it’s important for fellow team members to get organized?
Lisa: Absolutely! If all Team members stood together, Corporate would be more inclined to take our concerns seriously. Maybe even other retailers would take a closer look at how their employees are treated and make changes for the better.
TWU: What would you say to team members who are afraid of getting in trouble for exercising their labor rights?
Lisa: There’s an old country song that says, “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” To the new hire I ask, “Did you believe that you would get the same 35-40 hours that you got when you were training?” To the veteran I ask, “Do you believe that your review will result in the raise that you deserve?” Let’s stand together with courage. Let’s stay positive and look to the future.
If you agree with our fellow team member Lisa then reach out to us and get involved! Target team members will make Target jobs good jobs!