Twenty-five building cleaners who work in Target stores filed complaints Thursday with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration alleging that they have not received adequate training in handling cleaning chemicals and are locked in the retail building when performing their mainly overnight duties.
The complaints allege that the workers, who are employed by maintenance companies that contract with Target, have to find a manager to unlock a door when they need to exit the building.
"What would happen if a fire were to break out in one of those stores?" said Lucila Dominguez of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) workers' center in Minneapolis.
The companies that employ the workers, according to the CTUL, are Carlson Building Maintenance of White Bear Lake and Prestige Maintenance USA of Plano, Texas. Neither firm had an immediate comment Thursday.
A statement from Target said: "We are committed to maintaining the highest standards of ethical business practices and we expect our vendors to do the same. Target contracts with regional vendors to provide housekeeping services for all our stores. We take allegations of inappropriate working conditions seriously and complete a thorough external audit of every housekeeping vendor on an annual basis. Target has not received any notification from OSHA."
Target said further information should come from the contractors directly.
Last year, the CTUL and the Service Employees International Union released a report asserting that cleaners working for Diversified Maintenance Systems did not receive overtime pay for mandatory overtime and were threatened with firing if they didn't work the extra shifts.
Diversified Maintenance denied the allegations. Diversified's clients at the time included Kmart, Target and Best Buy.
David Phelps • 612-673-7269