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Denver - June 17, 2013 - Over 200 UFCW activists, labour allies, community members, and former Zellers workers converged on the Target annual shareholders' meeting in Denver, Colorado to demand the corporation respect workers' rights. Former Zellers worker Angela Rankin traveled from Toronto with UFCW Canada national representative Kevin Shimmin to confront Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel. Rankin was joined by members of UFCW Local 7 from Colorado; SEIU members from Minnesota; community groups from across the United States, and Minnesota State Representative Raymond Dehn. While the activists rallied outside the meeting, UFCW Local 7 President Kim Cordova led a smaller delegation of activists into the shareholders' meeting to raise the workers' issues directly with the Board of Directors.
“I am one of the 25,000 Zellers workers who lost their job because of Target," Angela Rankin told the shareholders and Target CEO Steinhafel at the meeting. "I worked at Zellers for 13 years and I loved my neighbourhood and my customers. I have been through three job interviews with Target, to simply come back to work in my store. I have been refused every time and Target won’t even tell me why. Mr. Chairman, when will Target start treating Canadian workers with respect?"
“Target Team Members in Canada tell us that only one to two per cent of store employees have come from the Zellers stores," Kevin Shimmin then told the meeting. "The CEO of Target Canada is not telling the truth when he says that thousands of Zellers workers have been hired. Mr. Chairman, why is Target discriminating against the very dedicated and experienced Zellers workers who were employed in your stores only months ago?”
A number of other urgent issues were raised with the Board of Directors:
- Janitors have been strike in Target’s home state of Minnesota for union recognition
- Target often receives tax breaks in the U.S. but does not return jobs and investment into communities
- Target Canada has hired a lobbying firm with close links to the Conservative Party to lobby against regulations governing the ethical sourcing of foreign goods
With no substantial commitments from Target’s CEO, activists vowed that this was only the beginning of a cross border movement to win justice for Target and Zellers workers.
“Target has the ability to do the right thing in Canada,” says Brother Shimmin. “It’s not just about 25,000 workers being thrown out of a job. It is also about their families and their communities. With a majority of Target stores still not open in Canada, the corporation needs to respect the rights of Zellers workers and guarantee they can return to work in their stores.”