March 10, 2015 / 9:20 PM / in 3 years

Worker group presses Target to boost hourly wage

(Reuters) - A women’s group has started a campaign calling on Target Corp (TGT.N) to raise its hourly wages, as pressure builds on retailers to follow Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) in boosting worker pay.

A sign for a Target store is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, in this file photo taken February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

UltraViolet, a group which advocates for women’s issues, said it has taken out online ads in three states and started an online petition pressing Target to increase its wages. So far it has attracted nearly 25,000 signatures, the group said on Tuesday.

The move comes on the heels of Wal-Mart’s announcement last month that it was lifting its minimum wage to $9 an hour in April and to $10 for current employees in 2016, above the federal minimum of $7.25. The owner of apparel retailer T.J. Maxx followed with a similar announcement a few days later. Gap Inc (GPS.N) had lifted its pay last year.

“Wal-Mart, Gap and TJMaxx have done it and now it’s time for Target to step up and do the same,” said Karin Roland, organizing director at UltraViolet, which claims 600,000 members. “A higher minimum wage is essential to women’s economic security.”

Roland said she believes the campaign is the first one in which a labor group is singling out Target on wages.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder did not comment on UltraViolet specifically but said the company was committed to paying competitive wages, while noting that all workers at its roughly 1,800 stores made more than the federal minimum.

“We’ve got a history of being very competitive in the wages we offer our team members. Our goal, and it continues to be my goal, is to make sure we attract the best team in retail,” Chief Executive Brian Cornell told reporters last week.

Target said last week it would shed several thousand jobs, mainly at its Minneapolis headquarters, as part of a restructuring to cut $2 billion in costs. It unveiled some details of that plan Tuesday, saying 1,700 employees had been notified they would lose their jobs.

The online ads - which say “Did you know there’s a Walmart near you that pays higher minimum wage than Target?” - are being aired near three large Target stores in Minneapolis, Pennsylvania and Nebraska.

Ultraviolet has worked in the past with Fight for 15, a group pushing for a $15 minimum wage. Among other campaigns it has also pressured the National Football League on domestic violence.

Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Richard Chang

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