A group of Target workers say they are planning a "sick out" on May 1.
Target Workers Unite!, a non-union coalition of Target employees, say workers from 50 of the store's more than 1,000 locations plan to call in sick on May 1 to protest what they say is a lack of corporate support amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"While we take them seriously, the concerns raised are from a very small minority," Target said in a statement. "The vast majority of our more than 340,000 frontline team members have expressed pride in the role they are playing in helping provide for families across the country during this time of need."
Target has been limiting the number of people allowed in its stores during the pandemic. But Target Workers Unite! says the current maximum capacity rules don't allow for proper social distancing, which is putting both staff and guests at risk for contracting COVID-19.
"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," the group said on its website. The group said later in an email that "it's practically impossible to keep 6 feet from customers, especially when they approach you asking for items."
Target says it has implemented a number of changes in its stores to remind customers to keep a proper social distance — including floor decals to mark where customers should stand in line, PA announcements reminding customers to remain six feet away from others, and signage throughout the store encouraging social distancing.
On April 2, Target said it would begin supplying employees with "high-quality" masks and gloves. But Target Workers Unite! says it has learned of "several" accounts of employees being "retaliated" against for wearing their own personal protective equipment.
In response, Target said that if team members "would prefer to wear their own face coverings instead of our provided ones, we’re allowing them to do so."
The group is also calling for higher wages. They say their current "pay and compensation are not adequate enough to cover the costs of hospitalization or funeral expenses related to COVID19."
On Thursday, Target extended a $2 wage increase it had granted to employees earlier this year through the month of May. The retailer also extended 30 days of paid leave to employees 65 an older, employees who are pregnant and employees with underlying medical conditions through the end of May.
Read Target's statement in full below.
Since early March, we've introduced dozens of safety, social distancing and rigorous cleaning measures in our stores across the country. These include cleaning checklanes after each guest transaction and rotating the use of checklanes for deep cleaning, installing Plexiglass partitions at checklanes, actively monitoring, and when needed, metering guest traffic and implementing overhead audio messaging reminders, to name a few. With the safety of our guests and team members in mind, we continue to actively monitor the situation and make adjustments, as needed. For example, given CDC guidance on the role that masks can play in slowing the spread of the coronavirus and to keep our team and guests safe, we recently began requiring that team members wear masks or face coverings when working in our stores.
While we take them seriously, the concerns raised are from a very small minority. The vast majority of our more than 340,000 frontline team members have expressed pride in the role they are playing in helping provide for families across the country during this time of need.
When concerns have been brought to our attention, we've taken additional action, including increasing the frequency of overhead announcements and adding more signage.