By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It may not be on the agenda, but the permit for a Target at Coddingtown Mall is likely to come up again Thursday at Santa Rosa’s
Planning Commission meeting.
Marty Bennett, co-chair of the Sonoma County Living Wage Coalition, said the group will ask the commission to reconsider its vote in light of the flawed employment information provided two weeks ago by a Target executive.
“We think Target should be forthcoming with its wage and benefit information,” Bennett said.
On June 14, the commission voted 4-0 to grant a use permit for a 143,000-square-foot Target to replace the former Gottschalks building, which has been vacant since 2009.
At the meeting, John Dewes, a Target regional development manager, dismissed Bennett’s claims that the retailer would be mostly hiring part-time workers at low wages. Dewes said 60 percent of employees would be full-time and 80 percent would receive benefits.
A spokeswoman later acknowledged that Dewes had mixed up the full-time and part-time ratios and would be clarifying his remarks with the commission.
“Some of my information was incorrect and I am sincerely sorry for this error,” Dewes wrote in a letter received by the city Wednesday.
Dewes said he “unintentionally inverted” the full-time and part-time ratios. Thirty-five to 45 percent of Target employees are typically full-time, he wrote. That means 55 to 65 percent will be part-timers. Half of those part-timers will work 20 to 32 hours per week, enough to qualify for the same benefits as full-timers.
These include health care, a 401(k) plan, employee discounts and paid holidays.
“Target’s wage and benefit packages for full and part-time team members are among the best in the retail industry,” Dewes wrote. “Our goal is to attract, retain, and motivate top talent.”
The letter did not disclose wage information, nor other benefit information, such as the percentage of workers who actually participate in medical plans. Bennett cited a study that estimated only 37 percent of workers receive such benefits, the result of high turnover rates, long wait periods and high co-pays and deductibles.
Bennett is also concerned that Target employees will not earn enough money to afford to live in Sonoma County.
Last year, a community impact report prepared for a new Target superstore in San Rafael estimated that most of its employees would make between $9 and $16.75. Target officials declined to provide updated information to The Press Democrat.
Bennett’s group argues that a living wage in Sonoma County is between $14 per hour for a single person and $33 per hour for a single parent of two children.
The estimate attempts to capture the cost of housing, transportation, health care, child care and food. Bennett said the coalition will reiterate its call for a community impact report on the Target project that would examine the quality of jobs created and the impacts on local businesses.
Commissioner Caroline Banuelos, who previously said she might reconsider her vote in light of the mix-up, said she met with Dewes on Wednesday evening. She said he was “very apologetic” and stressed that “they really want to be good neighbors.”
Banuelos said she needed to consider the issue further before deciding whether to pursue a reconsideration of her vote, a rarely used parliamentary move that a majority of the commission would have to support.