Overall the launch of today’s strike can be considered a success. We, along with supporters, marched on Target to deliver the strike notice. We were greeted by one of the store managers, but were not allowed to enter the store premises. After notice was given the entire crew went to their stations, supporters to the Target lot entrance with signs, banners, and chants full of enthusiasm, while workers stood in front of the doors of the store to leaflet while telling customers and coworkers what was going on and asking for their support.
Many did in fact support us, many did turn away and refused to cross the picket lines, old union heads, feminists, and all concerned community members. It was only a minority who expressed any hostility, some seemed inconvenienced, too busy to pay attention that the workers who serve them have experienced abuse. After the first half hour or so management finally came out to relay messages to us, this first manager actually seemed sympathetic with our efforts telling us they hoped we would get justice towards Daniel Butler. They instructed us that we had to stay 20 feet from the store entrance, we complied and it seemed both parties concerned recognize the other’s rights in this matter.
Next the cops were called, they came, they stood in front of the entrance for only a moment, nodded our way, entered the store to consult management, exited and repeated the same motion, only to leave the store.
But it was after this that the management took on a more aggressive approach, telling us we had to get off the entrance because we were “soliciting” and making the customers “uncomfortable”. We were fed some argument that because we were not striking during our scheduled shifts we were considered “guests” not workers, and we needed to get off Target property. We pushed back the entire time, as managers took shifts coming out to harass us. We were continuously threatened that there would be “consequences” if we did not leave, but seeing as the police never came back nor told us we were trespassing it would seem to us that management was bluffing.
As we kept arguing with managers we were able to inform other workers of their rights during this strike, since it was apparent management had no problem spreading misinformation. As we told management, it must really suck being in their position, having to defend Daniel Butler who abuses Target workers. Management seemed unamused. Some of the most positive developments were other local workers acting in solidarity. Sheetz workers, including management, gave us a huge box of fruit, water, donuts, and even a collective letter of support, offering us jobs if need be.
Workers from Panera also expressed solidarity and wish to work with us in the future to help build worker power in the New River Valley. A Verizon union worker bought us a case of water, we can’t express how grateful we are that our fellow workers stood by us and contributed to our effort. As of now, our strike fund is at $800 dollars. Clearly we have community support. Former workers during this strike made it a point to reach out to us, people we had no previous contact with, this has resulted in new condemning testimonies of Daniel Butler’s pervasive abuse.
Target, we have a message for you, the New River Valley does not support your manager and your lack of support for workers in their fight for justice. Y’all can either abide by our community’s wishes or get out of town.