Our Latest Win Against Target and Their Illegal Unionbusting

the latest NLRB settlement at Store 1292

CHRISTIANSBURG, VIRGINIA: After Target management engaged in illegal actions against Target workers in their attempt to unionize at Store 1292 last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has finally ruled in favor of Target workers. Target is required to post the above notice to all workers informing us of our rights to unionize, to distribute materials in nonwork areas – such as break rooms, parking lots, and near store entrances – and to be free from threats, interrogation, and spying by Target management as we exercise these rights.

This is the second settlement issued by the NLRB at Store 1292. The first settlement came off the heels of workers going on strike back in 2017, demanding the old Store Director be fired for abusing workers. Despite Target management violating the terms of the first settlement, the NLRB remains a weak federal agency with hardly any power to hold bosses truly accountable. There are no financial penalties or major punitive measures the National Labor Relations Act empowers the NLRB with in order to effectively stop the repeated violations and illegal conduct engaged in by Target.

This illegal conduct by Target management across all worksites is sadly under reported and normalized as many workers remain ignorant on what conduct by management is actually illegal. Last year we set a record of winning multiple cases related to these violations by Target management and could have won more if more workers were 1) educated and informed on what our rights are, as well as what constitutes illegal conduct by management and 2) dropped the fear of illegal reprisals by managers for participating in these federal investigations. We’ve constantly had to deal with workers dropping out of investigations, or informing us of illegal conduct by management only after the statute of limitations has expired.

Even though we have the right to organize, the law is not on the side of workers and is easily used by bosses to dissuade workers from organizing. This is how corporations want it, shrinking the unionized workforce, shrinking strike activity, and keeping workers miseducated and brainwashed against our own interests as a class. Until these dynamics change workers will continue to be taken advantage of, have no workplace democracy, and remain easy targets. Workers are the only ones who can fix it.


On the Recent Victory Against Target Corporation and JNB Global

Guatemalan Target workers holding their paychecks for the stolen wages they were owed for over two years

Since late 2020 Guatemalan Target workers, who make apparel sold at Target stores, have been fighting for justice as they had their benefits and pay stolen by JNB Global – one of the intermediary companies which Target contracts to manufacture Target clothes. 

JNB Global’s actions were illegal according to Guatemalan labor law, not to mention violating Target’s code of conduct for “ethical sourcing”. Target claimed (until recently) that the issue had already been resolved and these workers were “fairly” compensated by JNB Global with a measly $4,000 collective payout, when workers were actually owed over $60,000 as determined by the Worker Rights Consortium.

When we discovered these fellow Target workers had been abused and suffered great hardships as a result of these illegal actions we knew we had to show solidarity. It isn’t enough that we organize within our stores and distribution centers across the US. Target and all corporations are organized internationally and so must we if we want real worker power.

With the aid of the Brazilian union National Confederation of Clothing Workers (CNTRV), we forced Target Corporation to reverse its prior position and hold itself and JNB Global accountable for their illegal and unethical conduct. Once workers united across borders Target and JNB Global not only paid Guatemalan workers what they were really owed, but also eliminated the newer, illegal contracts JNB Global coerced workers to sign, which had erased their prior benefits.

As CNTRV union president Cida Trajano said, “large retail companies need to be responsible for their supply chain, whether direct or indirect, whether inside or outside their country of origin”.

“In Brazil, we have cases related to conditions similar to slavery involving global retail brands. If the clothes sold at Target are made in violation of labor rights, it obviously needs to take responsibility. The world talks a lot about sustainability, but forgets that decent work is one of the pillars of a sustainable model of development and conscious consumption”, they added.

Without worker internationalism we remain disorganized, impotent, and at the mercy of corporations like Target and pro-corporate governments. Capitalist enterprises and their bought-off governments cannot be trusted to defend worker rights, let alone assist in building worker internationalism. It’s up to us alone and really is the only answer not just to defend labor rights, but to build independent power against all imperialist machinations to further exploit workers of the world. 

Just as the Guatemalan state failed Guatemalan Target workers to uphold their labor laws, the US state fails to uphold labor law here. The laws are toothless anyways and this is by design. Target and all capitalist enterprises spend great resources to keep this dynamic in place where CEOs, shareholders, and their politicians keep their power and wealth off the backs of workers here and abroad. 

If we want worker justice we must reject the false nationalism promoted by pro-corporate governments and even the mainstream unions which claim capitalists and workers have a shared interest. 

We must understand that the working class and capitalists have nothing in common. This is the reality of the global class war. We have more in common with workers in Guatemala, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, China, etc than we do with the capitalists and their governments in each of our countries. 

Together workers of the world keep the globe spinning. Workers united across nations can force the corporations and their governments onto their knees. We can reshape the world based on joint worker control where everyone’s needs are met in a sustainable, planned fashion without war, famine, and poverty.




Target Illegally Unionbusting Yet Again At Store in Colorado

(Pueblo, Colorado) – After Target workers in Virginia filed unfair labor practice charges for illegal union busting earlier this year, Target workers at Store 0618 in Pueblo, Colorado have experienced illegal intimidation, interrogation, threats, and harassment by Target Corporation and store management as workers exercised their rights to engage in a card authorization drive since August 18th.

Target management has been holding captive audience meetings, holding one-on-one interrogations and telling workers the store will be closed if they sign authorization cards and vote in a union. As a result workers are preparing to file unfair labor practice charges against Target Corporation for this illegal conduct. 

Target workers are asking the community for support by demanding store management and Target Corporation to stop unionbusting and breaking the law.

All media inquiries can reach Target workers at (443) 330-7804‬, email at targetworkersunite@gmail.com, twitter @TGTworkersunite, or on facebook @TargetWorkersUnite


LEAK: Target’s Anti-Worker/Anti-Union Training

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.

Target Workers Demand Hazard Pay and a Union!

The COVID pandemic has been a gift to Target Corporation, its major shareholders and the executive board— but it has been nothing but a burden for Target workers. In 2020, Target set record profits for the entire company’s history, reporting almost a 20% increase in annual revenue for a total of $93.6 billion dollars. Target CEO Brian Cornell was on stage with Trump when he declared the pandemic a national emergency. It has become apparent the pandemic has been used as an excuse for corporate handouts from the state to companies like Target as small businesses were shuttered and workers compelled to report to our jobs as “essential.”

Prior to the pandemic, Brian Cornell made over 700x more than the average Target worker. Now since the pandemic, Cornell receives over 805x more than the average Target worker as the company announces corporate heads can work from the comfort of their homes and we rank and file workers must take a routine risk working in hazardous conditions where Target guests on a daily basis act in unsanitary and disrespectful ways. Those of us on the bottom of the Target pyramid have only received scant bonuses (which were taxed) and no real hazard pay during the entire pandemic despite the sacrifices we’ve made.

We essential workers need to be getting our fair share for working through this pandemic as we face the threat of illness, customer violence, and economic instability. There can be no consideration of fair compensation when wages for workers only averaged a 1.8% increase as CEO average pay increased almost 16% during the same period. With the Delta COVID variant surging across the nation and Target workers now required to mask up yet again, we think it’s past time for us to receive proper compensation and respect.

This is why we are demanding REAL hazard pay and a union. So long as the hazard remains in our workplaces, so long as we must wear a mask for the safety of our coworkers and communities, our pay should reflect that daily risk we take in reporting to our jobs while providing an essential service to our communities. This should at a minimum include a $2 dollar increase as hazard pay.

That we rank and file Target workers have to put together this petition as well as our continual struggle over poor terms of employment and working conditions highlights the fact we workers can’t wait nor rely on the Target bosses to look out for our best interests. This is why we must consolidate further as Target workers through our own rank and file union run by us Target workers and not some third party business union that only wants a portion of our checks to pay their bureaucrats who function much in the same manner as Brian Cornell.

To put it simply, we demand HAZARD PAY and a UNION!


The rank and file team members of Target


Victory to the Workers!

From the organizing committee of  Target Workers Unite (TWU): An Open Letter of Solidarity with the organizing efforts of workers at the Amazon Distribution Center in Bessemer Alabama (BHM1) closing a vote today on whether to join the Department Store & Retail Workers Union (DSRWU) and become a union.

In October of 2020, Amazon disclosed that nearly 20,000 of its more than 1 million U.S. employees had contracted Covid-19. Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos added a staggering $132 billion to his wealth, becoming the public face of stark income inequality during the pandemic. 

At the Amazon distribution plant in Bessemer Alabama (BHM1), where more than 80% of workers are  Black, Martin Luther King Jr.’s face adorns yellow placards put up by the company itself, in ugly hypocrisy- the sign reads: The Dream Is Alive.

The dream is definitely not alive at Amazon,” Perry Connelly, a 58-year-old Amazon worker in Bessemer, said in an interview with a journalist this month. “We work for a billionaire, but we can’t live comfortable, not struggling to pay bills. Am I gonna buy groceries? Or am I gonna pay for my medicine?” The signs that greet him every shift feel like a smack in the face, he added: “A lot of us were going to go and take them down.”

At Target Workers Unite, we share the sentiment that working in a dangerous job while earning less than a living wage during a pandemic is no one’s “dream” -, and we support the Amazon workers fighting at BHM1 to join a union to fight for better conditions at their workplace.

Amazon – whose CEO is the wealthiest man on Earth – has taken the most aggressively oppositional position possible against its workers organizing a union at the Bessemer distribution center.  Instead of sharing the wealth from this year’s profits with the workers who’ve put their bodies on the line during this pandemic, and hiring more workers to share in the companies increased workload, Amazon is now paying almost $10,000 per day plus expenses to three anti-union consultants: Russell Brown, Rebecca Smith and Bill Monroe to beat the union – and the company is also paying for Facebook ads urging workers to vote “no” on joining a union. Why is investing in anti-union methods deemed to be such an affordable expense for Amazon, while paying the workers a share of this year’s record profits is not? Obviously the company sees these anti-union expenses as more cost-efficient in the long term than the possible eventuality of paying Amazon workers anything close to what they are worth – especially if the Bessemer organizing effort turns out to be a success that could grow to other centers across the country and ultimately around the world. The company has calculated this, and that’s the real reason why they are fighting so hard to convince workers not to unionize.

It’s been a rough year for us as essential workers. We’ve been forced to decide against our own health and safety, in order to pay our bills. The reality of coming to work every day into crowded spaces and unfiltered air means that we are simply not safe at our jobs – no amount of “social distancing” will change that reality. Our bosses “thank us” with platitudes of our “heroism” for putting our bodies on the line to help bring food and other necessities to everyone during this pandemic… but we don’t need  these empty thanks — and we didn’t ask to be “heroes.” What we demand is respect for our safety, proper compensation for the risks we’re being exposed to, and a whole lot more respect for our bodies and our time. We’re fed up, and we’re fighting back. 

We’ve listened to the stories of suffering and prison-like conditions for workers inside the distribution plants, and there’s so much to be disgusted by that it’s hard to know where to begin discussing the changes that are obviously needed from this employer. “You don’t have time to leave your workstation to get water,” organizer Darryl Richardsonhe says. “You don’t have time to go to the bathroom.” Those few minutes away (which Amazon tracks closely) can cause workers to fall behind on their production quotas, and too many minutes away can lead to termination. These are not reasonable conditions that any human being would want to work under.

On top of these conditions we know that the company’s anti-union consultants are peddling lies to the workers in an effort to get them to vote “no” against a union. We also know that Amazon workers – drivers especially, who are on the road making deliveries so tightly clocked that they have neither the time nor place to take proper bathroom breaks – have  said that the practice of urinating in bottles to save time was so widespread that managers frequently referenced it during meetings and in formal policy documents and emails – in spite of the company having publicly denied these realities on social platforms like Twitter. In some cases, employees have even had to defecate in bags. But instead of doing something to alleviate this problem for workers, Amazon has instead retaliated against workers who are forced to resort to these unsanitary and humiliating practices. They punish the workers for a problem that the company itself has caused. And, they’ve lied about it to the public rather than take responsibility for the problem.

“A campaign against a union is an assault on individuals and a war on the truth. The only way to bust a union is to lie, distort, manipulate, threaten, and always attack,” Martin Jay Levitt, a former anti-union consultant, wrote in Confessions of a Union Buster, describing the sort of offensive anti-union companies like Amazon launch against workers.

What Bessemer workers in support of the union say they want is job security, better working conditions, a return of $2-an-hour pandemic hazard pay, less invasive surveillance at work, and to curb the use of aggressive time clock practices where workers are docked pay – a practice that is illegal in many states already, but unfortunately still practiced by predatory employers in places like Alabama where they can get away with it. And, workers across the board want to be treated like human beings, not robots. The demands from these workers are all  reasonable – and  achievable with a union -, but will be never granted voluntarily by Amazon bosses alone. This is why we support the workers at the Bessemer distribution center fighting for their right to unionize.

And we know we’re not the only ones on your side. Amazon’s unchecked wealth & power are so great that even forces who would normally be content to sit on the sidelines, like elected officials, are speaking up against the company’s abuses. In a public letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos signed by 401 parliamentarians around the world, elected officials said: “[W]hile your personal wealth has risen by around US $13 million per hour in 2020, these workers enter dangerous working conditions, enjoy little or no increase in their pay, and face retaliation for their efforts to defend themselves and organize their colleagues.” In short, Bessemer organizers – it seems everybody but your own employer is on your side in this fight to win a union.

We – and so many others watching – see the Bessemer distribution center workers as leading the way to a more hopeful future for the entirety of the working class – Target employees like ourselves included – as we fight for better conditions in our own workplace. “The vote at the Bessemer warehouse could be pivotal. If a majority of votes cast of the 5,800 workers at the facility, located in the suburbs outside Birmingham, favor the union, they will form Amazon’s first unionized facility in the U.S.” This is why Amazon bosses are fighting so hard to defeat the union. It’s also why it will mean so much to all of us if you win.

This campaign represents the largest union push at Amazon in the country, and if the workers win, they will be the largest number of workers to certify a union in a single NLRB election in three decades. Regardless of how this ends, we know that our fights are not over. What Amazon workers have organized for at BHM1 is historic, and we tip our hats to you for your leadership, which will set an example for others like us – and hopefully many more – to follow.


Target Workers 2020 May Day Sickout

Since our sickout on May 1st, we’ve been working to tally the results and draw lessons from our efforts as Target workers fighting for proper safety measures and compensation. While a couple hundred workers participated in our action, it still remains a significant milestone in Target worker history. Never before has Target faced a mass sickout from its workers. Despite what Target officials claim as “fewer than 10 workers” participating, we can confirm the participation rates were much higher based on our sickout pledges and disbursement of Target worker strike funds.

Our sickout pledges were signed by over 228 workers, while our strike fund has been able to distribute over $6,000 dollars to at least 50 Target workers who needed compensation for lost wages as a result of their participation in the May Day sickout. We still have workers reaching out about reimbursement for participating in the sickout, and we are still collecting donations for our strike fund. We had broad representation across stores, and across distribution centers. This action has left us stronger than before, garnering more attention from the public and from Target workers nationwide. We’ve experienced an uptick in messages, phone calls, and emails from Target workers all across the country expressing their concerns over the lack of compensation and safety measures by Target, further validating what workers with Target Workers Unite have said since the start of the pandemic.

Multiple solidarity actions from Target workers and other essential workers happened across the country on May Day to show support. Our actions and their media attention concerned Target executives so much that they threatened legal action against CNBC for airing an interview with one of our members which exposed the routine health hazards we face daily as Target workers. Under the threat of legal action by Target, the CNBC legal team advised the studio to pull the interview off air. Thankfully some concerned citizens were able to save this interview and repost it for the general public to see. The full interview can be found here: bit.ly/CensoredTargetInterview

The concerns of Target workers have only increased as many states are lifting restrictions and reopening the economy. Workers are terrified at the prospect of a second wave of the virus, especially as we head towards the fall/winter of 2020 and the holiday shopping season which starts with Black Friday. Increased foot traffic, loosening of store restrictions (including accepting guest returns, reopening in-store Starbucks, and other measures) all mean increased likelihood of transmitting the virus between workers and guests in our stores and distribution centers. 

We are fighting for our lives. Target workers have already died from this virus. More will continue to contract the virus and die from it unless we workers get organized and fight harder for more safety measures, such as shutting off foot traffic inside our stores to workers only. 2020 1Q reports show Target Corporation is beating projected sales, all off the backs of the workers who keep our supply chains functioning during the crisis. As we workers move forward, we will continue to organize and fight for our lives and the lives of all workers across industries and borders.

Shipt Drivers and Target Team Members Unite!

Workers of the world are stronger when we’re united. Our bosses know this and that’s why they spend so much time and money to keep us separated. We’re struggling against those efforts and forging unity with all workers who believe we deserve respect and dignity. Recently Shipt drivers (a company which Target owns) reached out to Target Workers Unite about how we can come together and support one another to make our jobs better. Posted below is the discussion we had in learning how Target has been treating us Target team members and Shipt drivers, as well as the similarities of policy from the corporation between our different jobs:

Shipt Drivers: We started in 2016 against Instacart, we thought it would be a one-time thing and kind of move on with our lives but we also realized if we didn’t keep fighting no one else would. so we just kept going and Shipt workers reached out to us and we’ve been trying to help since.

TWU: We were doing research on the whole issue of Shipt after we saw the article with Vice. It really got a lot of attention, we’ve been curious to see how it was going to play out since Target acquired Shipt, but as much as there might be differences we actually found a lot similarities between how they structure jobs for Shipt workers and Target workers, like how they’ve rolled out this new process at our stores called “modernization” and it’s a similar process with increasing our workload, unrealistic expectations and not really providing us the stability we need.

Shipt Drivers: Yeah we would expect there to be a lot of overlap after that acquisition, it seemed like both companies were operating in a separate capacity, but it seems Shipt has been integrated into the larger Target brand and it’s happening quite rapidly now, these noticeable changes since Target took over.

TWU: it’s like they purposely oversaturated the market with more workers than is sustainable.

Shipt Drivers: That’s what they do, that’s their answer, to just hire more people, plus they have that weird cult-like internal environment for Shipt workers. There’s really absolutely no concern about retention. The gig economy model is to hire at decent wages at first which people can sustain themselves on, which shows they know how to pay people properly, so they can build up a market and then eventually abandon any expectation of good pay and those gig workers who were used to the original standard are sort of pushed out and have to find better opportunities because they’re used to the original income, only to replace them with workers who don’t have those expectations or understanding.

TWU: That sounds very similar to our modernization process where they increase the workload while also falsely advertising they pay $15 an hour, but don’t tell you they cut the hours, overhire, and you give less time to do more work. People who are longer-term workers know how Target used to be and they’re seeing how it’s transformed. A lot of new-hires come in and they have no idea how it used to be. They see the new process and that has become the new normal as they’re really stressed out and overworked, but they have no idea how it used to be. In the meantime you have the older workers who feel like they’re being pushed out and off the floor and onto the registers because the workload they’re expected to meet is so huge they can’t meet expectations. It’s all really part of this precarious kind of living in general, it’s totally systemic and intentional by these corporations, turn these jobs into more precarious jobs. If you look at how jobs used to be structured back in the 1970s you didn’t have this idea everybody’s an entrepreneur and to sell their time, every little second all throughout the day with various little gigs, while none of it adds up to be enough. You can say the factory jobs were terrible and destroyed your body and they did, but at least you could provide for your family off of one job and have that security, whereas now there’s no guarantees, there’s no security and we definitely see how Target is exporting its model out to Shipt, all of which is largely in response to Amazon and how they structure their jobs and how they treat their workers. We just saw a report about Walmart rolling out a new model called “the great workplace initiative” which it sounds like they’re doing the same thing as Target’s “modernization” plan.

Shipt Drivers: it’s an industry-wide practice, once one company does that model all these other companies tend to jump on. The gig economy in general is bullshit, selling the idea that you can be your own boss, now you’re an entrepreneur, you run your own business, but ultimately it’s removing the responsibilities corporations once had, the regulations, depriving all these gig workers. if we’re not pushing back incredibly hard just over the idea that that Shipt drivers are misclassified, if we don’t push back it’s going to be expanded, it’s going to be at Target soon, it’s not going to be working for an hourly wage anymore, we’re going to be paid on how many transactions can be made, based on per unit, compensating people for more work at less pay, that’s the future of work.

TWU: it’s already here in some ways, thinking about jobs in the 1970s, that was one of the things the corporations started attacking was the structure of the jobs and the unions. Like re-classifying workers to become independent contractors like truck drivers, truck drivers used to have unions and now they’re independent contractors.

Shipt Drivers: that industry was deregulated and it’s been a clusterfuk ever since, it’s so bad.

TWU: One of the things we wanted to get into more was building our familiarity with what the job is like for Shipt workers. What does the average order look like? What does the whole process look like for an order?

Shipt Drivers: They’ve been pushing down the order size. The average order size is between 10 and 15 items, 30-40 item orders are not too uncommon either, but the smaller orders seem to be taking more of a hold and for some reason Shipt is actually encouraging that. The minimum is $35 for a customer order. Shipt likes to tell customers no order is too big or too small. As far as the processes are concerned it’s pretty much an online order, you pick the order, you deliver it, you have to deliver with a smile all the time and all the while giving an experience that says that it’s better than an instacart experience. You’ve heard the term “bring the magic”?

TWU: Yeah! Bring the magic! That reminded us how Target always likes to talk about being “brand”, they always want us to be “brand”, you know, and that means giving that above-average customer service and always engaging the guest, even having to refer to them as “guests”, we can’t refer to them as a customer, we’ve even had reports from Target workers who’ve been disciplined or terminated because they referred to “guests” as customers, so we get that whole emotional labor aspect. But with the modernization process it’s been very hard to do that because they’re expecting us to do more, but we’re having less face time with the customers than we did in the past. That’s something we hear from customers is that there’s not enough workers on the floor, it makes us think about the future of work in terms of almost like these corporations are driving people away from coming to the stores and pushing for this end-to-end process where you order it and it just magically comes to you. You know, who wants to come to the store and have to go to the self-checkout because the corporation won’t have enough cashiers staffed and you hate having to go through self-checkout because you’re having to give free labor to the company to do that work? So we’re thinking about the process there on the customer’s end of it and they’re frustrated too.

We’ve been doing this survey project the past year trying to get a real sense of what’s going on across stores at Target. There’s a corporate survey we have which no one takes seriously, it’s supposed to be the platform where you can air your issues and is supposed to result in change, but in reality we never see the results and everything just regularly gets worse. Anyway we did our own survey and we spent a while developing it, getting people to take it, and then processing it, we just published it not too long after the Shipt worker story broke on Vice, and Target we found out blocked our website on their servers so workers couldn’t even look at the survey if they were on Target servers, they’ve been trying to ignore and dismiss the results, but any Target worker who reads it will tell you that it accurately represents what it’s like working at Target. Also out of that we developed our Target Worker Platform, which is what we’re trying to propose as an alternative going forward, what Target workers need and how the platform is going to make it better for the customers we serve. So we’re trying to get folks to sign on with that and we are curious what are the demands that Shipt workers have? How do you organize as Shipt workers?

Shipt Drivers: The two issues are the pay cuts that are going to happen nationwide and the weird silence culture. So basically the biggest issue that we face right now is the fear of deactivation, there’s no rhyme or reason for deactivation, they won’t tell you why you were deactivated at all and that’s the biggest challenge that we are facing, the biggest push back that we’re getting, and whenever there’s any talk of trying to address those things people tend to clam up on those issues. Some people are speaking openly about things but that’s a minority right now, so right now it feels like and it looks like that Target and Shipt are making it so markets are completely saturated, and weed out the older workers regardless of what their performance is and substituting them with new workers who are going to be more willing to take lesser pay and not know how things used to be with the better pay. That’s another issue we’re trying to contend with, it’s a marketing blitz they’re doing and they’re definitely attracting new Shipt workers every day, trying to cultivate the idea they’re going to be receiving higher pay than what they actually are with the new pay system rolling out nationwide. We would say the biggest issue is that we are under extreme pressure to stay silent to the extreme. We don’t know how to overcome that other than creating more localized groups and having people meet face-to-face so they can start trusting each other as opposed to having a centralized organization they mistrust. A lot of people trust us at this point because the fact that we put our name out there and got several attacks so they’re like “okay their legit”, but some of the other people who are trying to help organize and haven’t taken that step they’re receiving push back, “what skin do you have in this game?” “who are you?” “never met you”. For us the biggest thing is going to be local organization and making sure that we reach out to new recruits that Shipt is bringing on board, but the culture you speak about at Target resembles a lot of the challenges that we’re facing, it’s resulted from the executive of Target and what they brought over from Target. I think we have a lot in common in that regard, the specific challenge that we face is that we don’t have any labor protection against employer discrimination, reason being that we’re considered independent contractors, it’s a huge challenge.

TWU: We were going to say have you thought about filing EEOC charges?

Shipt Drivers: We don’t qualify as independent contractors. One thing I wanted to expand on was just because this is one point of difference between traditional labor organizing and organizing gig workers is that we are not protected by the NLRA, we have no labor rights under labor laws, we can’t file a petition, there’s no OSHA that we get to go to.

TWU: No wonder these corporations love the gig economy!

Shipt Drivers: Job misclassification is intentional so they can avoid all the regulation, there’s no regulation in the gig economy. California started regulating the gig economy very gently, but it’s not being enforced properly. The reality is in addition to the complications of organizing in the traditional economy there are many added complications when you have misclassification, there really aren’t any formal protections for us. There’s no formal recourse for us, there is no NLRB to appeal to, no state regulatory agency, Department of Labor that’s going to come in and address any safety issues or wrongful termination or things like that. So that’s one of the additional complications to organizing in the gig economy.

TWU: Just like with the truck drivers now, they’ve been trying to build organization, but because they got that independent contractor status they have a really hard time getting traction, but also social media has become such a crucial tool now for trying to organize in these hybrid organizations.

Shipt Drivers: exactly, we wouldn’t have gotten this far without social media.

TWU: same with us, we can’t operate like the AFL-CIO, we don’t have a headquarters, we don’t have the funds to send out field organizers and all that stuff. Our only way is through a Facebook page, Facebook groups, some paid ads, and trying to build organic connections with other workers across the country, but the fear factor is real, even for private-sector workers. But one advantage we have, whether you’re a third party vendor, independent contractor, or actual employee of Target, is that if you read their SEC reports Target directly says that their public image is their most vulnerable thing, and that’s the real leverage Shipt workers have, is that Target is treating its workers badly. That Target has created a situation for y’all that’s way more draconian towards you because you have no protections versus us formal Target workers. They’ve been very hands-off towards us formal Target workers. But again we’ve found from other organizations trying to struggle against Target like this worker center in Tennessee was organizing janitors against Target, but the janitors are not formal Target workers, they’re contracted out by this third party company, and the worker center was able to show and pressure Target to drop the third party company because they were engaging in racist practices against the janitors and Target didn’t want that negative association. So we definitely think that’s an important thing for Shipt workers to consider when trying to win something like a transparent policy to speak freely as Shipt workers. And as Target workers we can definitely utilize our voice to speak out on Shipt workers behalf! We’re sure Target workers would be very interested in knowing the similarities between our jobs and learning that y’all have way less protection and are under a way more draconian system than we are because of that deregulation.

Shipt Drivers: When others see you really coming forward and telling a story, sharing experiences, being open and transparent, it has started to fracture the social cohesion that Shipt created in their official facebook groups for Shipt workers. Including the censorship, the moderation of what actually gets to be published in those groups, for a long time many folks wanted to say something, wanted to do something, wanted to speak out and have just been too fearful, but what we’re seeing recently is that if you kind of open that door and set a path people will follow and that’s something once there’s a critical mass, which doesn’t even have to be that many workers, once you get a critical mass of workers to really start having these conversations in an uncensored way without the absolute fear of retaliation and deactivation the harder it’s going to be for Shipt and Target to contain the bullshit.

TWU: We feel like this is all coalescing, this is great, we got our survey story published independently from y’alls which broke the story about Shipt workers and then the Target warehouse workers up in Jersey just announced they’re going to try to unionize and it’s all blowing up in terms of what’s going on in Target. Target workers are speaking out and taking action and see the need to organize, which is really good and we need more of it and it’s the only way things are going to change. The US has unionization rates in the single digits where it’s like 95% of workers are not organized, not in a union and are at the total mercy of these corporations. That’s probably one of the biggest issues of the mainstream unions, they haven’t put enough effort in trying to organize the unorganized, and have very rigid, fixed ideas how to run organizing campaigns that don’t work in today’s economy and they don’t know how to adapt as well as the capitalists have.

Shipt Drivers: One benefit of not having traditional employment protection or structure is we’re not bound by those rules either. Even though we don’t have proper recourse we’re also not subject to a lot of the same rules around labor organizing like being in a formal union. So like secondary boycotts for example with traditional unions have been illegal for a long time, not for us. Part of what we need to do is figure out ways to utilize those loopholes where we aren’t subject to traditional employment rules and use that against corporations in the fullest capacity to make their gig economy model unsustainable.

TWU: it’s like our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength because we don’t have the protections of formal unions, but at the same time we don’t have to operate by those rules like you’re saying. For us Target workers for instance we don’t have first amendment rights on the job, we don’t have freedom of speech when we work in the private sector. We are basically working for little sovereign kingdoms where US amendments don’t apply. It’s only our labor rights which give us the ability to speak and even then it’s very restricted under the Trump-appointed NLRB, they’ve really narrowed down what qualifies as concerted activity, whereas Shipt can’t censor Shipt workers since you do have first amendment rights. We can’t just go to work and say “I hate Donald Trump”, they can fire you right there for that if they wanted to. Even with that there’s just so much unfamiliarity, and lack of education about labor rights and that’s probably the biggest hindrance for why there hasn’t been more active labor organizing among workers especially in the South where we’re in right to work states and so many people think that means you have no labor rights, but it’s not true! So we have to debunk that idea, that’s one of the big initiatives for us is education and trying to build a base level of knowledge about what our labor rights are and hopefully Target workers hear what y’all are going through and realize “oh my God we have all these protections and rights that people have fought to get we should just exercise them and not be as afraid because we actually have some recourse here that Shipt workers don’t”

Shipt Drivers: There are important points of solidarity, important ways to build solidarity between Shipt workers and Target workers. If we could combine the power of our forces it will be really great!

TWU: We need the “one big Target union”, we want to build connections with the factory workers in China who produce all the stuff we sell at our stores, we need to be building those connections with workers from point A in the factories to point Z where it ends with Shipt workers.

To join efforts with other Target team members and Shipt drivers reach out to us and get involved by clicking here!