A Tale of Two Targets



For years now Target has garnered much attention and support for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity, perhaps most famously supporting trans guests and workers to do one of the most basic things non-trans people take for granted – having the right to use the restroom based on your gender identity. This bold move should be applauded and we should support all power players, such as Target, defending the rights and dignity of marginalized people who otherwise face a world hostile to their existence.

Yet despite these efforts by Target to live up to its self-proclaimed values there is another history that Target has wished to hide. Back in 2010 Target came under massive scrutiny for funding hate-based, anti-LGBTQ politicians. When this contradiction was brought to light Target’s response was:


“Target has a history of supporting organizations and candidates, on both sides of the aisle, who seek to advance policies aligned with our business objectives, such as job creation and economic growth. MN Forward is focused specifically on those issues and is committed to supporting candidates from any party who will work to improve the state’s job climate. However, it is also important to note that we rarely endorse all advocated positions of the organizations or candidates we support, and we do not have a political or social agenda.

In the context of this contribution, some of you have raised questions regarding our commitment to diversity, and more specifically, the GLBT community. Let me be very clear, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.”


It is important to emphasize that the above justification was based around the issue of economics, meaning that Target, as a corporation, will do whatever it must to create the most favorable conditions to maximize its profit margins, even when that means funding hate. We would have thought that since this incident the executive leadership would have learned that they can’t claim to respect diversity and inclusivity for its guests and workers when they consciously choose to fund hate-based politicians.
This is not an old issue, but an ongoing one that remains right up to the present. This year alone Target has given tens of thousands of dollars to some of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker politicians in the country. Based on our research Target has funded 28 of these politicians, all of whom voted at one time or another against passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would give protection to LGBTQ workers against workplace discrimination. The overwhelming majority of these same 28 politicians also voted for one of the largest wealth transfers in modern US history at the expense of the 99% into the hands of the 1%. Their touted tax bill will also lower the corporate tax rate from the current 35% to 21%, giving corporations $320 billion dollars in benefits. It is a complete lie that Target funding these anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker politicians is not part of a “political or social agenda”.
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the nefarious actions these politicians have engaged in, which Target has enabled. Take for instance Rep. Cathy Rodgers, who not only co-sponsored a state bill in Oregon to ban gay marriage, but had ties to white nationalist James Allsup. Or we could look at another Target politician such as Sen. Roy Blunt, who voted to ban gay couples from adopting children, also voting against a federal minimum wage increase to $10 dollars. There’s Rep. Bradley Byrne, who endorsed the infamous pedophile Roy Moore and refused to rescind his support for Moore even after all victims stepped forward to speak out against Moore’s abuse. Rep. Bryne also is in favor of Trump’s Muslim ban – how does that pair with Target’s beliefs of diversity and inclusivity? Probably the most ironic of all is Target’s enabling of politicians like Rep. Mark Walker, who fought to enact North Carolina’s infamous HB2 bill, which bans trans people from using the restroom according to their gender identity. And then there’s Rep. Virginia Foxx, who not only dismissed the hate crime committed against Matthew Shepard – which prompted the passage of anti hate crime legislation known as “The Matthew Shepard Act” – she also believes corporations should have access to their workers’ DNA.
Here is a complete list of the hate-based politicians Target funds:

Rep. Cathy Rodgers

Sen. Roy Blunt

Sen. Cory Gardner

Sen. Mike Enzi

Rep. Bradley Byrne

Rep. Jeffrey Denham

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Virginia Foxx

Rep. Tom Graves

Rep. Darrel Issa

Rep. Mike Kelly

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer

Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Rep. Patrick McHenry

Rep. Bruce Poliquin

Rep. John Ratcliffe

Rep. Tom Rice

Rep. David Young

Rep. Kevin Yoder

Rep. Steve Womack

Rep. Mark Walker

Rep. Pat Tiberi

Rep. Claudia Tenney

Rep. Dennis Ross

Rep. Paul Ryan

Rep. Martha McSally

Sen. Dean Heller

Sen. John Barrasso

We say “no more” to all of this. We demand that Target executives be held accountable for their actions, which cause harm to Target workers and guests. We demand that Target executives absolutely stop enabling and funding hate. We demand Target executives actually be consistent with their self-proclaimed values which are supposed to respect diversity and inclusivity. Will this moment be just one more instance of Target executives demanding that we do as they say, not as they do? Or will Target executives live up to the millions of dollars they have invested in cultivating an image of being “progressive”?

Please share and sign our petition linked here


Our Store Newsletter


There have been several developments since our last update back in September. Since that time there have been efforts to galvanize workers through group meetings about our labor rights and encouraging discussion around the situation of the working class today.

In the process of doing this management has pushed back against our efforts, including disciplinary meetings of workers for inviting coworkers to labor rights events, and holding “captive audience” meetings where management speak out against our efforts, and discouraging coworkers from participating. As a result two charges are now pending against the management through the NLRB regarding management’s conduct during and after our strike in August.

And now our latest effort is self evident, our worker newsletter. The worker newsletter is a means to discuss the issues facing us as workers at this store and abroad, to build unity between workers, and to provide protection for our speech. Free speech is not something really protected in the workplace, especially not in a “right-to-work” state. What does offer protection to our speech is our right to concerted activity. This newsletter is an engagement of concerted activity as we discuss what things we would like to see change at Target.

It is our hope that through sustained discussion among coworkers about what we would like to see, and what we need to see Target become we can build unity and realize those changes.

To read the full newsletter please click here



Post-Strike Update


Today, September 8th, we have received word from Target management that they have met our first demand to fire Daniel Butler. For years workers at the Christiansburg Target have tried to go through the internal channels of the Target corporation to hold Butler accountable only to be ignored, and even worse, retaliated against. Our strike, and collective efforts prior to, show the community what workers’ power really means.

Unfortunately sexual harassment and worker abuse are a common and under-reported issue across the country. Just as we have seen in our particular context with Daniel Butler and the Target chain of command, what are suppose to be basic rights never to be violated and absolutely respected by corporations are often times dismissed and swept under the rug. This is why we, as workers, MUST organize ourselves for our own interests. If we place our rights into the hands of those who hold power over us we can never expect those right to be protected. We MUST continuously fight for them.

Again, this doesn’t end with Butler, this is just the beginning. There are other issues on the job. Workers do not get a living wage at this store, workers who have been with the Target corporation for a decade or more have been struggling to make ends meet. They don’t have health insurance despite serious medical issues, they can’t afford to pay their rent to our local slumlords in the trailer parks, they can’t afford to buy groceries after paying all their other bills. Which is why we have given a portion of our strike fund to those workers in need.

What sort of fair trade do we really see from Target towards workers who have remained loyal to the company for so long? It is not as if the Target corporation is hard up for money. Target raked in $69.4 billion dollars last year. The Target CEO Brian Cornell makes $28.1 million dollars annually, despite only working for the corporation for three years. We have many coworkers who have worked for Target longer than him, and yet they are the ones who have to worry about making ends meet? There’s no justice in this. And this is why we won’t stop until that is corrected.

Day 5 Recap


This day has been as incredible as the last four, and in some ways more incredible than the others. Who would have thought with only an initial small amount of Target workers and supporters we could have had such strength to impact a major corporation’s behavior? As we woke up we found out from other workers that the last two days the Target store has not reached its sales goals, showing the strength of the strike and the community boycott to support our strike. Not only this but the mere threat of a student boycott of Target’s “College Night” event was enough to cause the shuttle service from Virginia Tech campus to the Target store to be canceled.


Early reports from workers tonight indicate the event has been a flop. In summary we have been successfully able to 1) launch an internal Target investigation against boss Daniel Butler 2) pursue the filing of charges with the EEOC 3) find legal support to pursue legal action, if workers so choose 4) garner support from the major unions and local politicians 5) shut down the shuttle service between Virginia Tech and the Target store 6) enact an effective boycott and 7) flex our rights without Target retaliating on us workers (so far). None of these accomplishments are anything to scoff at. We did this with nothing but a shoestring budget, knowledge, and compassion for our fellow workers.

One thing we have debated is how long exactly we will go on strike. There is a real threat of being replaced the longer we stay on strike and we think it is critically important that we show our coworkers that not only we can go on strike, but that we also can return to work unscathed. This is why we have resolved to call off the strike and return to work tomorrow on Monday August 28th. We believe that we have already won our two demands, but they are both demands that take time to bear fruit. We’ve planted the seeds, they have sprouted, now we must cultivate them into maturity. Again, we cannot thank the community enough for standing up with us in our fight for justice. We will keep everyone posted with further results. We have no illusions Target will want to get rid of us for causing them such a headache, but we are in this for the long haul and this is moreso a beginning rather than an end. Stay tuned…

Day 4 Recap


the district manager surveilling


The one reoccurring theme of this strike can be summed up with a single word: solidarity. Over the past four days we have seen many different groups step up to help us out and show us what that word really means. There has not been a single day that people havn’t provided us with donations, nourishment, and emotional support. We are truly overwhelmed by this and it has provided us with great hope about the future in an otherwise dreary present.

Local workers, both unionized and non-union, have played a major supporting role. We’ve gathered hundreds of signatures from customers supporting our demands. Even more managers have come forward to tell us striking workers they support our efforts to hold Daniel Butler accountable for his actions. The community is talking and it seems their answer is clear, worker abuse is not ok in the New River Valley. Some still don’t believe we are not paid union organizers, that this is all a ploy for an eventual union drive, but apparently we have to keep emphasizing this is entirely an independent effort of rank and file workers taking action with community support.

Some workers have opened up to us a little more about what we already knew intuitively, there is a lot of support from the Target workforce, they are just afraid of Target retaliating on them for acting on their labor rights. If any of those workers happen to be reading this we would like them to know that we have their backs and will fight tooth and nail for them if they want our help. We know there are other issues on the job and if we come together, as workers, we can get shit done. This strike alone, with only a small fraction of workers, should be proof enough of this. If management thinks for one second that we are going to let them get away for retaliating on other workers who dare to struggle with us they will find out how severe the repercussions will be. It’s a new day at Target.

Day 3 Recap


The amount of solidarity that has been shown to the Target workers has only increased over the last three days. Today we had members from the UFCW, the UAW, and the CWA. Other community organizations, such as NRV Indivisible, and two local Democrat candidates came and endorsed our strike, Chris Hurst and Steve McBride. Furthermore we have now been offered legal representation if workers feel so inclined as to pursue a lawsuit for the abuses they have suffered. The filing of an EEOC charge is also pending. With all this said we want to make some facts clear for all parties concerned. The Target workers on strike have done this action autonomously, we are not paid organizers of any union, of any NGO, we run entirely off a commitment to our principles of worker power and a knowledge of our legal rights.

We are members of this local community, born and raised, we attended the elementary, middle and high schools here, we are not transplants, we are not outsiders. We care about our community and what happens in it. This is the primary motivation for our efforts at holding Daniel Butler accountable for the worker abuses he has engaged in for years now. And while we support the solidarity shown to us by local politicians and the unions, we are committed to operating autonomously as empowered workers.

Some have encouraged us to turn this effort into a union drive, but to us this is less relevant for our situation. There are benefits at not having such a formal designation, which comes with further legal constraints that tie the hands of workers from taking direct and militant action. We don’t want to be caught up in a legalistic and bureaucratic way of organizing, instead we want to depend on the principled commitment of local rank and file workers, which entirely hinges upon our ability to unify and commit to one another, to where we are directly accountable to each other. This is what we are getting at with the second demand of an independent workers committee. Stay tuned for Day 4.

Day 2 Recap


The day began with anticipating the management would harass us workers on strike, just as they had done previously. To our surprise they changed tactics and decided to be hands off, even friendly to us. We’ll never trust their intentions, but we’ll gladly take the breathing room to talk to coworkers and customers more freely. The same manager who seemed sympathetic with us the previous day informed us at the morning team huddle Daniel Butler told the work crew that he was under investigation by Target. As one worker told us “it was awkward”.

This news lifted our spirits, proving that what workers had tried individually for years, we finally accomplished with collective action and community support. While we support this move by Target we also won’t entrust our fight for justice in the hands of a corporation. That duty belongs directly to us rank and file workers. It was amusing to us, that despite the more hands off approach of management today, the managers, including the district manager, were outside pushing carts. We know what attempts at surveillance and intimidation look like, but they won’t deter us, give us a chuckle maybe, but nothing more.

If we were floored by the spontaneous solidarity by local workers and old union heads yesterday today was astronomical in comparison. Virginia unions stepped up and turned out en masse to join our picket, the UFCW, the AFL-CIO, and the UAW all showed up to join the picket line, providing bodies and resources without us even asking them to. For the first time in our lives the unions had a real presence. This is not a union town, this is hardly a center of workers power (we’re working on changing that), but today felt like it was.


With the planning of this strike we wanted to firstly defeat a class enemy of local workers, and we are gaining momentum on this. All workers who provided testimonies as well as those who were too afraid of retaliation for recording theirs have been reached out to with the contact information of the Target investigator, but we also want this strike and its results to act as a beacon to the local working class that together we are unstoppable and we can force all these corporations to meet our demands of worker respect, a living wage, of health coverage, and worker control over the workplace. We start with Daniel Butler, but we won’t finish with him.

Another Worker Testimony

After the strike began, this testimony was supplied to us by former Target worker Amanda Gilmer:

I want to start off by saying I am in full support of this strike and I hope the employee demands are met. I was hired as a seasonal employee in October 2016 and quit in May of 2017. During my employment, I primarily worked on the truck team so my interactions with STL Daniel were limited, but they were just as uncomfortable as the other testimonies portray them to be.

In the mornings, before store opening, management would do a store walk while the truck team was working and that is where I primarily had interactions with him. Almost every single day that he saw me he would comment on my hair, tattoos, or appearance in some way. These comments could seem harmless at face value, but I’m not exaggerating when I say it was every single time I saw him. This made me mildly uncomfortable but I figured it was just his way of being friendly, even if it was misguided and a bit unprofessional. One morning, during our huddle, I was wearing a black headband and had my hair up and he approached me and said “oh I was worried for a second there, I thought you had dyed over your beautiful red hair.” I found this to be a pretty creepy comment to make (especially after the dozens he’d made before that), but I laughed it off to avoid confrontation. Another comment he made that I felt was completely unprofessional was made one morning during our break. I was at a table with two other female employees and a male employee. STL Daniel was skulking around the room talking to various people. He stopped at our table and nudged the male coworker and said “you should be paying me to sit at a table with these three pretty ladies 😉” And chuckled. All three of us just looked at each other awkwardly smiling until he left. The subtle sexism disguised as “compliments” is honestly gross. I don’t come to work to have my appearance commented on daily. He was the only person from manager to coworker that ever felt it necessary to make these comments and it made it that much more obvious how unprofessional he was compared to everyone else around him. I was even told by a few of my female coworkers that he was ‘handsy’ and got a little too close sometimes. I thought this was an appalling statement to hear since apparently nothing had been done about it even though it was a well known fact. I found myself going home after work every day and venting to my husband about yet another comment on my hair that he had made, and he always told me to go to HR and complain. That I shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable, that’s what HR is there for. Well, when I finally quit, that wasn’t really the case.

I quit in May of this year for a variety of reasons, the primary one being my direct ETL of the flow team, but that isn’t who this is about. Before my last day, I asked if I could meet with Taylor, the HR ETL of the store to discuss some issues I thought were important. I wanted to leave knowing I had possibly fixed issues for the coworkers I was leaving behind. I outlined all the problems I had with the store, with the treatment of employees, etc. She was incredibly professional and filled with concern. She took notes, assured me these issues would be dealt with, she made me feel completely heard and validated. At the end of my meeting with her she asked if there was anything else, and I kind of laughed and said that there was. I told her that STL Daniel made me and a few other female employees uncomfortable with his comments and general demeanor towards us. That I didn’t want to name names but I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, that the hair comments were so frequent it made me feel weird and it was unnecessary. She frowned and looked a bit defeated and told me he “has a good heart” and “he means well”. I smiled and politely agreed that I don’t really know him, that I’m sure he does, and then left. I was really disappointed by her reaction, her tone made it seem like it wasn’t the first time she’d heard this and she came to his defense making excuses for behavior that I was telling her I found unacceptable. It was odd how the sexism I pointed out from other managers was so unacceptable to her, and then in the very same meeting she came to the defense of her direct boss doing the same thing. I didn’t understand it but it was my last day so I left without looking back.

I didn’t want to go to HR until the very end of my employment because I knew he’d be the type to retaliate or make me even more uncomfortable. I worried a lot about being cornered in conversations with him because they were always awkward and forced and a bit too intimate. Any time he came through to walk the store, every single person on my team (of all women) would look at each other, clearly uncomfortable with his presence. For a while I rationalized that he was just one of those manager types that liked to feel important and talk the loudest and use their perceived power as an intimidation tactic, but that coupled with the oddly placed compliments to his female employees made me feel especially powerless. He sets the entire store up to be a hostile environment.

As I said before, I quit because of the flow team ETL who was a direct employee of Daniel. He was sexist and inappropriate as well, making sexual jokes and comments about female workers or belittling us for being women on the truck team “trying to be men.” I found it very ignorant and immature and offensive. Plenty of members of management there make derogatory comments about the gay community or other races. I witnessed this first hand all the time on flow team. You’re expected to laugh with them and accept it as a woman, as a minority, as an LGBTQ+ individual, and it is not okay. Especially when during hiring orientation you are fed the idea that target is an open accepting environment where discrimination or discriminatory comments won’t be tolerated. Target policies are continually disregarded and not upheld by management and it is disappointing to say the least.

These are the standards that Daniel Butler sets for his employees at this store and it is completely unacceptable.”

Day 1 Recap

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.


New Testimony

As a result of our first day on strike and the overwhelming support from the local community and workers abroad we have received yet another condemning testimony from a former Target manager at a distribution center who worked beside Daniel Butler on Virginia Tech campus recruiting students to come work at the Christiansburg Target store. They wish to remain anonymous. This is their account:


“The Christiansburg store would share a booth with us at these events and recruit separately for their Executive Team Leader positions. Daniel represented the store, alongside a ETL usually, at these events I had a lot of face time with Daniel, and the guy is beyond unprofessional, and incredibly sexist. A pure scumbag. He would make comments about how nice the butts and breasts of students interviewing were. At one point, in front of senior Target distribution leadership (my boss, not directly but above me at the distribution center), he told us that he only hires women that “he can see himself sleeping with” I also remember asking him about how an interview went, and he told me, “she didn’t interview well, but she looks like she could fuck. So I’m gonna bring her in for a second interview” I honestly thought he was joking, it was all just “guy chat” or whatever. But after reading some of these testimonies I feel bad I didn’t say anything beforehand. I can verify my former position, background, and involvement with the recruiting team. I also can provide witnesses, though all are still current Target executives and I’m not sure how cooperative they’d be.”