Target to Demote 8,000? Ouch!

In an apparent effort to reduce the expense of health care and other employee benefits, a Target employee reports that he has just been informed that Target will down-grade as many as 8,000 employees from full-time to part-time. He is one of those full-time Specialists and Team Leaders who are being demoted.

The employee, who goes by "Michael," wrote an extensive missive to The Consumerist, stating that Specialist and Team Lead positions are being eliminated in all Target stores over the next several months. Those who hold those positions will be demoted to part-time status, being assigned under 32-hours per week and paid on a lesser, hourly basis. Target representatives dispute Michael's reports

Michael also claims that many of these full-timers will be expected to train the part-timers to do their core jobs, before they are demoted. Some speculate that they will be so angry about this that they will quit, and entry level employees can be hired to replace the higher paid workers.

For the Target shopper, this could mean less experienced and knowledgeable customer service. Those familiar with Circuit City's demise note that the same tactics were attempted with Circuit City employees in order to save a buck, but shoppers became frustrated by the lack of customer service and expertise and began buying elsewhere. It took less than a year for Circuit City to declare bankruptcy after that move.

"If this is true, I'm going to vote with my wallet," said one Target shopper in a comment on the Consumerist post. "If you are going to no longer treat your employees decently, I'm no longer going to patronize your company. Since I currently spend $300+ per month at Target (in order to avoid giving any business at all to Walmart), I guess that $3,600+ a year is now going to be going to CostCo."

However, Target officials beg to differ. A concerned email to Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel (Gregg.Steinhafel@target.com) reported the following:

"This simply isn't true. A false and malicious rumor is being spread by a misleading article in TheConsumerist.com. We have not cut pay, hours or benefits. We continue to build new stores and add new jobs although fewer than in the past. Thanks."

A Target spokesperson explained the changes this way:

"Each year we review our store operations and structure, which allows us to continually improve our guest service and productivity. We made minimal changes to our structure this year – they affect less than 5 percent of our hourly store team member base. Overall, the changes affected team members will experience include shifts in title or responsibility (for example - a sales specialist - shoes, could be retitled merchandising brand manager), and none of these team members will see a change in their current pay, the number of hours they work or their eligibility for benefits."

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