'Save Thanksgiving' appeal reaches Target

  • Article by: THOMAS LEE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 22, 2011 - 8:31 AM

A petition with 190,000 names was delivered to Target's headquarters, urging the retailer to abandon its midnight opening on Black Friday.

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Occupy Target it wasn't.

There were no tents, bullhorns or riot police, but rather a pleasant-looking clergyman helping to hand over three Target bags (plastic no less) of signed petitions to an executive at the company's corporate headquarters in Minneapolis.

Come to think of it, why didn't the Occupy movement crash the party? I guess that's the subject of another post.

The highly scripted, somewhat awkward, completely anti-climactic event capped a grass-roots campaign to shame Target for its decision to open stores at midnight on Black Friday. Launched by Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee in Omaha, the online petition via Change.org attracted more than 190,000 signatures.

Hardwick didn't attend the event, but Seth Coleman did. Change.org chose its man well. A loading-dock worker in Northfield, Coleman looked like a man not too happy about spending a big chunk of his Thanksgiving holiday with his employer.

Coleman dutifully read a statement that began, "All Americans should break bread on Thanksgiving and get a good night's sleep."

OK, fair enough. Personally, I like to break bread and sleep well every day, and not necessarily in that order, but heck, that's just me.

If Coleman came off as somewhat unpolished, he more than made up for it with true grit. I asked him what some readers have suggested on this blog: If you don't like your job, why don't you just quit?

"If you do nothing, nothing will change," Coleman said. "The problem would still be there at your next job."

Another reporter asked him about the people who don't have jobs. Shouldn't Coleman just feel lucky to be employed?

"It's not like I'm making six figures," he retorted.

An equal right

In other words, workers don't chuck their grievances at the door. In America, we all have the right to feel equally lousy about our jobs, whether we're CEOs or cashiers.

And these Target employees aren't the only ones sour about working on Thanksgiving. On the heels of the Target petition, dozens of similar petition drives have popped up against various retailers, including Richfield-based Best Buy.

But National Retail Federation Vice President Ellen Davis said workers should be thankful for the hours, even if they're on Thanksgiving.

"Employees should be happy about that because it means there is more job security for them," she told the Star Tribune last week.

Target said it is only doing what customers want.

A human resources official had this prepared statement to read during the event:

"As [Black Friday] is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is imperative that we be competitive," said Target spokeswoman Anahita Cameron. "Our guests have expressed that they would prefer to kick off their holiday shopping by heading out after their holiday celebrations rather than getting up in the middle of the night."

I instantly wondered how exactly Target's guests expressed their desire to shop at midnight. Did they launch an online petition and deliver three bag-loads of signatures to Target corporate headquarters?

Now that would be something to write about!

Thomas Lee • 612-673-4113

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  • Ralph Wyman, left, the Rev. David Breeden and Seth Coleman, an employee of the Northfield Target store, delivered pages containing over 190,000 signatures calling on Target to push its Black Friday opening back to 5 a.m.

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