Target Workers Planning 'Sickout' To Demand Safer Work Environment

by Madison Vanderberg
A general view outside Target store in Queens Place, Queens on April 20, 2020 in New York City.
Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/Getty

Target workers say the company isn’t doing enough to prioritize their health and safety

With social distancing rules in place across the country, the only places you can shop are grocery and certain essential retail stores like Target. However, essential stores are only supposed to be open so that people can buy food and other household necessities during the lockdowns, but apparently, people are venturing out to Target simply for “recreation,” which is overcrowding stores and putting Target employees at risk. With few options, Target workers are striking and on May 1st will stage a “sickout.”

Target Workers Unite, an employee activist group, announced their plans for the May 1st walkout to protest the unsafe working conditions in their stores during the coronavirus pandemic. Their biggest grievances are that the company does not have a mandatory face mask policy and that there aren’t proper social distancing rules in place to limit the number of guests inside stores.

“At Target the foot traffic and guest behavior have been atrocious, putting us at needless risk when greater safety measures are required to ensure social distancing. Workers nor guests have been required to wear masks,” Target Workers Unite wrote in a statement. “Our maximum capacity of guests have been set too high, their demeanor is also casual and reckless. They do not respect our space, they are not coming to our stores exclusively for essential items, but are occupying our stores out of boredom and for fun.”

Adam Ryan, a liaison with Target Workers Unite, told USA Today that the giant retailer hasn’t “done enough to prioritize safety,” and claims the store is “more concerned about the sales than protecting us workers.” He added that the company needs to find a way to manage the fact that shoppers aren’t taking coronavirus seriously. “It’s almost like we’re in a pre-COVID situation right now and not in the middle of a pandemic,” he said.

At the onset of the coronavirus, Target restricted store hours across the country, increased workers’ hourly pay, and doled out bonuses, but according to Target Workers Unite, not the amount of financial compensation is enough when their health is at stake.

Target employees aren’t the first to stage walkouts. Instacart and Whole Foods workers held their own “sickouts” earlier this month to demand more protective gear and a comprehensive sick leave policy should they contract COVID-19. Amazon Warehouse workers across the country are also expected to call out of work this week.

“Target Workers Unite calls on all team members to join us this May 1st, International Workers Day, along with other workers across industries and across the nation to fight for our lives, and ensure our safety,” Target Workers Unite wrote at the end of their call to action.