Unions, community pressure against Midway SuperTarget

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The St. Paul City Council has delayed approval of a SuperTarget along University Ave. in the Midway neighborhood, buoying opponents who say current plans for the store are bad for the area.

The council decided Wednesday to delay a decision on the new, 184,000-square-foot grocery and retail outlet to be built at the intersection of Hamline and University Avenues. The controversial project has been the subject of appeals, delays and protests.

Earlier in the day, several organizations, including the Lexington-Hamline Community Council, Jewish Community Action, Sierra Club, United Food & Commercial Workers Local 789 and others held a news conference outside Target headquarters in downtown Minneapolis to announce their opposition to the project.

Bernie Hesse of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 789 addresses a news conference outside Target headquarters as community members and others look on.

“We would like to work with Target. They’ve been a neighbor for a long time,” said Jessica Treat, executive director of the Lexington-Hamline Community Council. So far, she said, the company has not been responsive to concerns raised by the community.

Issues include access to transit, creation of living wage jobs and reducing the impact on the environment, speakers at a news conference said.

“The design that Target has proposed is certainly not good from an environmental point of view,” said Mathews Hollinshead, transportation chair of the North Star chapter of the Sierra Club. The plan’s large parking lot and distance from transit will encourage people to use their cars rather than mass transit, he said.

UFCW Local 789, which represents workers at the nearby Cub and Rainbow stores, said the SuperTarget, which will carry groceries, will be a direct competitor.

“One thing that has remained constant in the Midway are the living wage jobs with health care at two union grocery stores: Rainbow and Cub,” said Bernie Hesse of Local 789. “These employers have recognized the need to provide wages, working conditions and benefits so that they can maintain a stable workforce.

“All of this is at risk with the introduction of a Big Box Target and their aversion to a unionized workforce.”

City Council members also voiced concerns about the number of minority contractors who would be hired for construction of the store. It was unclear when the council would next consider the SuperTarget proposal.

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