Everyone must go: Target's final days a struggle for remaining employees
Published Thursday, February 5, 2015 8:37AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 5, 2015 1:11PM EST
As Target Canada begins to liquidate its assets, a number of its 17,600 employees are taking to the Internet to anonymously share their gripes about the company that will soon leave them jobless.
Target Canada launched its court-supervised liquidation process on Thursday at 133 stores across the country. The hotly-anticipated sale is already drawing large crowds of bargain hunters, which means Target will have to lean heavily on its soon-to-be-unemployed workers to move stock and address customers' questions. Morale among those employees is understandably low.
Some of those minimum-wage employees have expressed their anger and disappointment with Target through social media, but are unwilling to do so publicly for fear of losing their last few weeks of employment.
Target has set aside about $70 million in a trust for its employees, many of whom are minimum-wage workers facing an uncertain job market. That money amounts to 16 weeks of pay at whatever rate individual employees were earning prior to the shutdown.
The money was initially earmarked for severance packages, but Target now says it doesn't consider the payouts to be severance.
"This is not a severance package as, under CCAA (Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act), there typically is no severance," a spokesperson from Target Canada told CTV News by email on Thursday. "To help ensure that the team is treated fairly, Target Corporation took the unprecedented step of establishing an Employee Trust."
An apparent Target employee FAQ, leaked online, suggests there are complicated terms to being paid in full under the employee trust. According to the unverified FAQ, employees get 16 weeks' notice that they are being released. Target can tell those employees they are no longer needed before those 16 weeks are up, in which case the employee continues to get paid for the remainder of the 16 weeks. However, if the employee finds a new job or quits before the end of the "notice period," he or she is not entitled to payment.
"In the event you voluntarily choose to leave Target Canada prior to being told your services are no longer needed, you will forgo pay and benefits for the remainder of your Notice Period," the FAQ said.
The official Target Canada spokesperson had a similar message in her email to CTV News.
"At this point all team members are eligible provided they work through the period they are needed," she said.
A man claiming to be a senior business analyst at Target Canada recently held an "Ask Me Anything" session on the link-sharing site Reddit, in which he addressed questions of the company's collapse and the fate of its employees.
The individual said many employees are "giving up" with the end of Target so near. "No one really wants to make trouble," he said. "We feel obliged to shut down responsibly. But it's hard knowing that it's the end."
Another woman claiming to be a Target employee posted a passionate plea on Reddit last month, urging customers to treat Target employees with respect during the withdrawal process.
"There's no need for you to remind us we're closing down or that it was our fault that nobody shopped here," user bluelight_ said in the post. "It can get a little discouraging to walk into work and have guests constantly belittle us because we're working for a failed company. Please be nice."
A woman named Danielle Eve launched a crowdfunding site on Indiegogo last month to raise money for a trust to help ex-employees of Target.
"There will be more than 16,000 people who are not covered by the Target employee trust simply because they were contractors or part time employees," Eve says in Facebook post from Jan. 25. "These are your neighbours, they are bread winners and family supporters who are left with nothing. I'm hoping to raise something to help."
Several individuals claiming to be employees have also said they'll miss the experience of working at Target. A number of them posted about their disappointment on a petition to save the company on Change.org.
"I work at Target and I couldn't imagine having a better job!" wrote Chelsea Gretchen of Nanaimo, B.C.
"I've loved working there," added Nicolas Duguay of Brossard, Que. "The atmosphere with my team members is so enjoyable that we always have fun together. We aren't just a group of workers at our Target… We're a family and I'm sad to be losing them."
Employees at an Ottawa Target got creative with their last days, posting several funny videos and photos on social media.