Target employee fights Black Friday hours

  • Article by: WENDY LEE and STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: November 14, 2011 - 9:24 PM

The worker launched a petition asking the retailer not to open at midnight on Black Friday.

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Roseville, Mn. Friday 11/26/10 Black Friday early shopping. These people waited in line for hours in below zero windchill to shop for bargains at the Target store in Roseville, MN. This year, the store will open at midnight.

Photo: Sennott, Richard, Star Tribune

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Anthony Hardwick is taking direct aim at Target for its decision to open its doors at midnight on Black Friday.

The part-time Target worker from Omaha is angry that the retailer's plans will ruin his Thanksgiving. And he has started a petition through www.change.org to scuttle Target's midnight opening.

"Employees like myself will have to leave for work right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner," Hardwick said in a statement. "We don't mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far." Hardwick has collected more than 60,000 signatures on the petition, which asks Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel to call off the midnight opening and go back to the original plan to open at 5 on Black Friday morning.

Change.org is the same group that helped shoot down Bank of America's plan to charge its customers a $5 monthly debit card fee. Earlier this month, Bank of America capitulated after a Change.org petition against the fee collected 306,000 signatures and late-night TV comedians mocked the bank as greedy.

Hardwick, 29, who says he has been a Target parking attendant for three years, began the petition two weeks ago after learning that he and his coworkers would be required to start at 11 p.m. Nov. 24 for a 10-hour shift.

But Hardwick's petition comes at a time when Target is feeling the competitive squeeze from Wal-Mart, which plans to open its doors for Black Friday at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Macy's, Gap, Kohl's, Toys "R" Us, Best Buy and the Mall of America all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.

Despite being caught in the middle, Target says Hardwick won't suffer any retaliation for bucking the company.

Hardwick "will not be disciplined for starting the petition or voicing his opinion," said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman.

Target takes the position that customers "want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night," Snyder said. "By opening at midnight, we are making it easier than ever to deliver on our guests' wants and needs.

And while Hardwick says the midnight opening is unfair, other Target workers will have it worse.

In Denver, Target is opening its 29 stores from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. According to a news release, this test in the Denver area will help the retailer decide whether to open in other markets on future Thanksgivings.

Snyder said Target will give holiday pay to employees who work on Thanksgiving. In addition, she said store leaders each year work with employees to accommodate scheduling needs.

Bloomberg contributed to this report. wendy.lee@startribune.com • 612-673-1712 alex@startribune.com • 612-673-4553

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