What's next? Current and former Target employees pause to ponder their future


It's 3 p.m. in Minneapolis and some downtown bars are packed.

The reason? Target has laid off 1,700 people from its corporate headquarters in the Twin Cities, and workers flooded downtown pubs on an unseasonably warm and sunny Tuesday.

There were hugs and handshakes aplenty as colleagues, friends and intimates consoled and commiserated at circumstances beyond their control.

They are the unfortunate victims of cuts wielded suddenly following last week's announcement that $2 billion would need to be saved in the next two years, that has left the Star Tribune fearing how the city will recover from such a loss of skilled workers. Workers will be getting a severance package of 15 weeks pay, plus extra for every year of service.

In Gluek's, the tables are covered with glasses and several of the bar's distinctive "beer towers" as Target members – ex and current – made the most of the fact that they were given the option of going home early, after arriving at work to be greeted by the ominous sight of flat-pack boxes.

Most of those in the bar were unwilling to talk, and the few who did preferred not to be named.

"We were told we had a meeting at 8:45 a.m., they pulled maybe 30 of us into a room," one of the laid-off workers in Gluek's told BringMeTheNews. "They told us: 'You are being released,' that we had some time to send some emails, and then they brought us back for a more nuanced meeting at 11:15 a.m."

"I was expecting an announcement," he added, "but I had expected it would be the managers to go today."

Morning 'meetings' appeared on calendars

In Kieran's Irish Bar, conversation is animated, and loud, with staff remarking it is busier than they have seen it for a long while at this time of day.

Two women who were willing to speak had kept their jobs, but they more than anyone else could sympathize with their co-workers who had been dealt devastating news.

They said those who were in the firing line had been sent emails requesting their presence at a morning meeting that appeared on internal calendars. Those left off the mailing list were given an apparent indication of safety, for now.

"It was a pretty somber atmosphere," one of them said. "It affected all areas, not just one specific area."

"Canada was a big mistake, and the data breach didn't help either," another similarly experienced worker, remarked: "They [the cuts] were not necessarily about performance, it was about getting the company back on its feet."

MPR says it is now on Target to provide reassurance for its remaining workers that their jobs are secure, having endured a difficult day bidding goodbye to co-workers and friends. But the company could not confirm that Tuesday's cuts will be the end of it.

'I've got to find a job'

The impact on Target workers is obvious, but the effect on nearby businesses could also be significant. The Star Tribune says the layoffs will "reverberate" around downtown Minneapolis, as 13 percent of Target's corporate staff are removed from the workforce.

Gluek's president Lee Holcomb says it's always bad news when jobs are lost downtown. But in spite of this, the atmosphere was not necessarily downhearted, with current co-owner Dave Holcomb saying there was a sense of hope as well.

"We were sad because everyone lost their jobs, but they seemed to be in fine spirits, they were not drowning in their misery," he said.

In Holcomb's bar, the now ex-Target worker ruminated on his next step.

"I've got to find a job," he said. "I'll just have to look around."

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