Target Corp Not Making Many Friends; 15Now Rally Tuesday

Feb 28 Workers Rights Forum, photo credit @BlongStPaul/@GreenActionMN

Feb 28 Workers Rights Forum, photo credit @BlongStPaul/@GreenActionMN

By JT Haines — March 1, 2015

In case you haven’t noticed, Minnesota-based Target Corp hasn’t been making a lot of friends lately. Among the headlines in just the last few months are: the debacle in Canada and resulting closing of 133 new stores, rescinded employment offers detailed in January in CityPages, and the February layoffs of 550 employees at HQ (disclosure: at least two of which are friends of mine).

Meanwhile, Target is paying its new CEO massive amounts of money (including a scheduled $5.8 million due this month), and is so far refusing to raise minimum wages at the company, despite wage raise announcements from companies including Wal-Mart (MPR).

All this is context for Target’s next battle, which is about to be brought to its doorstep. 15Now Minnesota — part of the 15Now national group working to raise the minimum wage to at least $15/hour — is organizing a “Picket and Rally” at Target HQ on Nicollet Ave this Tuesday at 4:30, demanding a raise in Target minimum wages. The organizers’ full description of the event is below.

A “Workers Rights Forum” on Saturday at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change in Minneapolis — which took up issues including #15Now, fair scheduling and others — was attended by City Councilperson Cam Gordon (who is publicly supporting #15forMPLS), as well as representatives from 15Now Minnesota, CTUL, Working America, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, GreenActionMN, Socialist Alternative, OUR Walmart, and others, indicating growing interest in the #15forMPLS and Target campaigns. (Disclosure: I am a member of @GreenActionMN, and supporter of the #15Now campaign.)

Seattle and San Francisco have both passed $15/hour minimum wages. 15Now would like Minneapolis to be next. Tuesday’s rally at Target in Minneapolis is open to the public.



Last week Walmart announced it would raise base wages to $10/hour, following years strikes and protests. This is still a far cry from a living wage, but it shows workers have power when we organize.

But Target CEO Brian Cornell, who will take home nearly $6 million this year, responded saying he won’t raise Target workers’ wages, not even to Walmart levels!

Workers across the country are demanding $15/hour and union rights. Let’s bring the fight to Target headquarters this Tuesday. And if Target refuses to act, 15 Now is calling on cities and states to raise the minimum wage to $15, starting right here in Minneapolis. Join 15 Now to demand Target and Minneapolis City Hall show leadership to end poverty pay in our communities!

Facebook Event:

“The Shadow of Crisis Has Passed”: Reflecting on the 2015 State of the Union

President Obama, VP Biden, Speaker Boehner, SOTU 2015

President Obama, VP Biden, Speaker Boehner, SOTU 2015

By JT Haines — January 23, 2015

For many, the President’s State of the Union address this year was a bit of a feel good romp. (“Where has this been for 6 years?” and etc.) Some have argued that, to the degree this year’s SOTU was improved, it has more to do with political calculations than Obama himself, but that said, he did offer more in this address than any SOTU I can remember, with a couple of potshots at the troglodytes to boot. Let’s take a look at some of what the address did, and didn’t include.


Here are three of the better excerpts:

Money: “To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”

War: “The question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world.”

Climate: “2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does – 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century…The best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we do not act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration, conflict, and hunger around the globe. The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it.” (emphasis mine)

The President of the United States saying these things out loud is a progress of sorts to be recognized. A full transcript of the address is available at NPR.


Not surprisingly, the address also glossed over some pretty key facts and context. Here are a few of the more important facts that I believe were not properly represented in the address:

Incarceration. With 2.2 million people in jail, the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate. (Highest!) [Harvard Mag] Incarcerated drug offenders are up 1200% since 1980, and 75% of prisoners locked up on drug-related charges are African-American. In his book “Blowing the Roof Off the 21st Century,” Robert W. McChesney makes a compelling case that these developments are due in significant part to economic forces, including the increasing privatization of prisons. This is plainly immoral, and key information to include when one is boasting about crime rates. #NotInSOTU.

Inequality. Income inequality in the US is at its worst since 1928. [Pew Research] The top 1% of the world’s population owns at least 40% of its wealth. [Vox] This was #NotInSOTU.

Military Spending. The US spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined [NBC], outlays which are increasingly privatized. We have military bases and operations all over the globe. We are an empire. #NotInSOTU

Planet. We have lost half of our wildlife on this planet in just 40 years due to human exploitation and habitat degradation, threatening all life on this planet. [World Wildlife Fund] This unbelievable and urgent development, tied directly to our economic system, was #NotInSOTU. Not remotely.

These are just a few examples of crucial topics I did not hear honestly addressed in the SOTU. We also heard very little if anything about drone killings, infringements on civil liberties, police brutality, and the absolute urgency and reasonability of the demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. (For more of what wasn’t in the address, check out Seattle City Council Person Kshama Sawant’s “Socialist Response to the State of the Union” and Ralph Nader’s “Swings and Misses“.)


There was value in the President’s 2015 SOTU, and we should both appreciate his inclusion of certain matters as well as demand action to accompany the words. Obviously, even in the best of times with the best of intentions, it would be impossible and perhaps even unwise for the President to take up all subjects of concern during the State of the Union address.

We must also, though, have our eyes wide open. A mere two days after Obama declared ”The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong,” the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and its 17 nobel laureates moved the Doomsday Clock 2 minutes closer to midnight, citing climate change and nuclear proliferation. [CNN] That clock now sits at 11:57.

I wonder if those guys were watching the same speech we were.