Tag Archives: target

How this State Dept. Whistle Blower Ended Up With a McJob

Just to show you the level of hostility that the Obama administration has towards transparency; here’s the story of a former State Department whistle blower and his persecution by the institution he gave so much of his life to. Peter Van Buren wrote a book about the United States’s involvement in Iraq back in 2012. The book was part of the powerful The American Empire Project series which features works by authors such as Noam ChomskyAndrew Bacevich and the late Chalmers Johnson. After the book was published the State Department forced Mr. Van Buren out of his job and also tried to take away his pension.

As Van Buren contested the suspension of his pension payments from the government, the reality he was presented with led him to seek temporary employment to make ends meet.

As he writes in The Nation.

My skill set was pretty specific to my old job. The market was tough in the Washington, DC area for someone with a suspended security clearance. Nobody with a salaried job to offer seemed interested in an old guy, and I needed some money. All the signs pointed one way—toward the retail economy and a minimum wage job.

He ended up working for a big box store that he likes to call “Bullseye,” but I think it’s a safe bet to say that he’s really referring to Target Corp. Van Buren’s insight into the environment that surrounds a McJob is as informative as it is depressing.

You had to pay attention, but not too much. Believe it or not, that turns out to be an acquired skill, even for a former pasty government bureaucrat like me. Spend enough time in the retail minimum wage economy and it’ll be trained into you for life, but for a newcomer, it proved a remarkably slow process. Take the initiative, get slapped down. Break a rule, be told you’re paid to follow the rules. Don’t forget who’s the boss. (It’s never you.) It all becomes who you are.

From my own personal experience I can tell you that these jobs will suck your soul right out of your body.

As Van Buren states:

I’d see employees rushing in early, terrified, to stand by the time clock so as not to be late. One of my fellow workers broke down in tears when she accidentally dropped something, afraid she’d be fired on the spot. And what a lousy way to live that is, your only incentive for doing good work being the desperate need to hang onto a job guaranteed to make you hate yourself for another day. Nobody cared about the work, only keeping the job. That was how management set things up.

He goes  on to talk about the poverty wages earned, the meager hours allotted and the multiple McJobs held by people to compensate for the low wages that all of these corporations pay. All the while the top executives of these corporations earn millions.

In the end, there’s no way someone is going to be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps from doing this sort of work. Ultimately, Peter Van Buren won his battle over his pension with the State Department and was able to leave this McJob and retire.

Photo by cliff1066™ 

Photo by kevin dooley

Target loses a battle in Canada

Glad to see it happen.

UFCW Canada recently celebrated a victory in the campaign for fairness at Target and for former Zellers workers who were laid off when Target replaced the Zellers stores.

A decision by the Quebec Labour Standards Commission recognized – for the first time – Target’s responsibility to Zellers workers and their communities by ruling that Target needs just cause to deny former-Zellers workers employment in the rebranded retail locations.

via Victory for Former Zellers Workers in Fight Towards Fairness at Target | The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).

Working on Thanksgiving for Target probably sucks

Ever since I left retail hell as a young twenty-something over a decade ago, my anti-consumerist & anti-corporate feelings have only intensified. Every year I shudder in disbelief as throngs of possessed people kick down doors on Black Friday to get at the latest “deals.” In some cases people have been killed as the shoppers trample over their fellow-man like a herd of wild elephants running from a mouse.

This is why I can’t help but agree with people wanting Target to revert back to the 5 am opening on Black Friday instead of making their employees come in at 11 pm on Thanksgiving Day. Personally, I’d rather support Buy Nothing Day and not even take part in Black Friday at all, but nonetheless there’s no reason to open the stores on Thanksgiving.

In our consumerist culture, marketers and retailers fuel the herd. Now don’t get me wrong I love my gadgets and etc. but I’m tired of being told what is the hot item that I absolutely must have. I don’t want to be the one waiting in line for the newest Wii or iPhone. I definitely don’t want to be the person waking up at four am to wait in line for the chance to acquire said device for a low price. If it’s a good product and I have a need or want for it then I’ll consider purchasing it if it’s something I can afford. But I refuse to become obsessed with getting it at all costs.

NLRB calls out Target

It looks like the real thugs these days aren’t the unions as the right-wing would have you think. The real thuggery is from corporations like Target.

The Brooklyn body of the National Labor Relations Board has gathered more evidence that Target intimidated workers by threatening to close a store if a union was approved in a vote this summer.

The new charges could be enough evidence for an administrative law judge to recommend that the election results be overturned, Alvin Blyer of the regional NLRB told the Minnesota Independent.

Also, circulating on the Internet is an anti-union video that Target makes its employees watch. While Target is not as horrible as Wal-Mart they’re not too far behind.

Consumerism: Crowd goes crazy in Target on Black Friday

David Sirota actually pointed this out and made the comment “and you wonder what is wrong with our country.” He’s right and this has been happening for years now. Benjamin Barber has talked about this in his book Consumed. Naomi Klein made us aware of this in No Logo and I’m sure there are other books to cite as well. Oh hell I’ll throw Affulenza in there too.

Why do you allow corporations to tell you when to wake up and go somewhere just to make a purchase? Can’t the prices be had on other days–not just one day known as Black Friday? Can’t you simply go online these days? Why are you so desperate to get into the store on that day that you would trample over people and in some cases kill someone?

Also what are you buying?  Are you on that line hoping to get some new piece of electronic equipment or toy that marketers are telling you that you must have? In the past it’s been the Playstation II, iPhone, Wii, Xbox, Furby, Tickle Me Elmo, Beanie Babies, Pokemon, Cabbage Patch and I could go on.

There’s always going to be some “hot item” that marketers are going to convince the public that they must have or that their kids must have.  I’m not against buying a product that you want but I’d rather people want things that they’ve come to realize on their own that they want not through advertising and marketing. I’d also wish that low prices would not drive people to such extremes to acquire things. There’a whole other line of thought on low prices and their negative side you could get into.

In the end just don’t trample on someone. OK?

Target’s tax bill increases in DeKalb, Ill and i’m happy

I’ve always felt that municipalities have gone tax abatement crazy. Which is why during The Great Recession it is good to see tax abatements being pulled back.

“We will roll out the red carpet as much as we can (but) they are going to honor the contract,” said Brendon Gallagher, an alderman in DeKalb, Ill., where Target Corp. got abatements from the city, county, school district and other taxing bodies after promising at least 500 jobs at a local distribution center.

So when the company came up 66 workers short in 2009, Target got word its next tax bill would be jumping almost $600,000 – more than half of which go to the local school district, where teachers and programs have been cut as coffers dried up.

Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target have predatory book pricing

The American Booksellers Association asked the Justice Department’s antitrust division to investigate “predatory” pricing of books sold by Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp.

“We ask that the Department of Justice investigate practices by Amazon.com, Walmart and Target that we believe constitute illegal predatory pricing that is damaging to the book industry and harmful to consumers,” nine ABA board members wrote in a letter addressed to Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general for the antitrust division.

via Booksellers Seek Probe on ‘Predatory’ Amazon.com, Target Prices – Bloomberg.com.

This is just like everything else a big corporation would do when competing in the marketplace. They move in then undercut the competition with lower prices. When the competition is gone you will then see prices raised. It is unjust. Although with the online element of Amazon I would gather that their predatory pricing is capable of major damage.

Shame on Target violating lead paint ban

It would seem they have been knowingly selling toys that exceeded unacceptable lead levels.

Target has agreed to pay a $600,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that the retailer knowingly sold toys with paint and surface coatings that exceeded acceptable lead levels, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced today. The penalty is associated with items sold by Target from May 2006 through August 2007 that were subsequently recalled.

What does Target have to hide? (union-busting video)

So the other day I blogged about Target forcing their employees to view this anti-union video they created. I later got this comment on my blog that Target is trying to pull the video off of the Internet. I noticed that the video I had linked to on Vimeo had been taken down.

More from the commenter on my blog…

Please download and spread this video, as there has been much effort at removal by Target Corp.
Upload to any and all available servers!!
Here is a link. I am attempting to upload it to MegaVideo which has been giving me trouble as well as others. I don’t have much time.
Here is a link to the native file. Unsure how much longer it will be up. try to upload it anywhere you can. Thanks very much!

I’ll do my best to spread the word!

Target using anti-union propaganda videos

Like many a corporation it would seem that Target is now joining the bandwagon when it comes to attempting to fill their employees heads with anti-union propaganda. There is an interesting suggestion on how people could fight back by producing and distributing their own videos to Target employees.

A counter argument should be made. And since Companies and CEOs have addresses and spending habits of people, the union should have them also, and mail dvds with the counter argument to all Target employees. Of course if getting those addresses is not feasible, which is probable. People that care about Americans and workers rights could pass them out to target workers outside of Target stores.

This actually sounds like fun! This should be done with all corporations because after all, the real reason corporations are anti-union can be summed up below.

The irony of it is union workers make more then non union workers, non union retail workers have less pay, less health care and less benefits then union retail workers, the real reason the training video wants to smear unions with deception, is money for companies not money for employees.