Report: Target raised pay but slashed schedules and benefits

Target workers told the Guardian that even though their wages are rising, they're getting fewer hours and more work to do within them.

Target workers told the Guardian that even though their wages are rising, they're getting fewer hours and more work to do within them. Associated Press

Minnesota retail giant Target pays its store employees an hourly minimum wage of $13 since the summer of 2019. By the end of 2020, it’s supposed to increase to $15.

But several employees told the Guardian that even though their wages are going up, their pay and benefits seem to be shrinking. That’s because the raises are often accompanied by slashed schedules.

“My biweekly paycheck doesn’t even pay rent,” Massachusetts worker Matt Funnell said. He told the Guardian his full-time, over-30-hours-a-week schedule had been cut to less than 10 hours a week at the beginning of the year. He was losing his health insurance and “other benefits,” as were his co-workers. 

“My higher-ups still expect us to get the same amount of work done in a fraction of the time,” he said.

It’s a familiar complaint. Last year, Business Insider went deep on the company’s 2018 “modernization plan,” which was supposed to revamp how stores are run. After talking to dozens of workers and reviewing leaked documents, the publication reported part of that plan was scaling back or even eliminating positions in the stores’ backrooms.

Target worker organizers thought it might have been an attempt to compete with Amazon’s market-crushing business model, but said it was making their stockrooms into crowded, unsafe “nightmares.” On top of that, no fewer than 13 current and former employees told Business Insider their hours had been drastically cut in the previous year, forcing employees to complete heavy workloads in a short amount of time.

“I was in charge of 32 aisles by myself and I cried twice in the back room because I felt like I was drowning in work,” an Arizona employee said.

Target told the publication that wasn’t true, and said it was investing more than ever into payroll, but declined to provide specific numbers.

Meanwhile, morale isn’t looking great. Target Workers Unite, an employee advocacy group (Target is notoriously anti-union), recently asked 500 Target workers in over 380 stores and 44 different states about their lives and their work conditions.

Only 12.7 percent of workers who responded said they could survive on wages from Target alone, and 56 percent reported struggling to afford food while working there. Another 12.8 percent said they’ve been homeless.

More than half the respondents reported that management has told them not to discuss wages with other workers. Nearly 42 percent said they’d been reprimanded for talking about workplace issues at the store or on social media.

Only 16 percent felt the expectations of management were “realistic and attainable,” compared to 72 percent who felt they weren’t.

Target didn’t respond to interview requests, but the company once again denied its workers’ claims in a statement to the Guardian.

“Every year, we survey hundreds of thousands of team members and consistently hear from our team that they’re satisfied with the pay, benefits, and experiences they receive from Target,” read the company statement. It added that Target has a “commitment” to “industry-leading wages, scheduling practices that balance our team members’ availability with out business needs, and employee engagement that is well above industry averages.”