CommunityThe Dissenter

For the Poor Workers Who Won’t Get to Spend Their Thanksgiving at Home

I am spending Thanksgiving with family and will be at home enjoying their company all day while I eat plenty of food. However, there are millions of workers in the United States that will not share my experience. They are victims of a shift in this consumer society. They do not have a choice and will have to report to work.

First off, these workers are not being asked to staff “pre-Black Friday” sales. They are being called in to store locations to staff Thanksgiving Day sales and should not be allowed to attach “pre-” to Black Friday in a manner which the late comedian George Carlin would have totally skewered.

Walmart Stores, Inc. will have just over a million workers reporting to locations, which is about 70 percent of the people the big box store employs nationwide.

Over 900 Old Navy locations will actually be open from 9 am to 4 pm this Thanksgiving. Then, after three hours, the retailer will continue its “unprecedented 29 hours of Black Friday shopping,” and re-open at 7 pm.

Dollar General will have Thanksgiving hours and be open 7 am to 7 pm. Some Toys “R” Us locations are opening at 5 pm with “four hour deals.” Michael’s will be open at 4 pm.

“Last year, millions of people made it clear that they wanted to shop on Thanksgiving evening,” according to Best Buy. So this electronic retailer will open at 6 pm.

Target, Staples, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods will open at 8 pm.

Around the country, hundreds of Simon malls are opening at 6 pm.

Simon’s Premium Outlets locations with the following stores will have their workers reporting to locations at 6 pm:

 2b bebe, AIX Armani Exchange, Adidas, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, BareMinerals, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, The Children’s Place, Cinnabon, Claire’s Accessories, Coach, Coach Men’s, Cole Haan, Converse, Crocs, Desert Moon, Designer Fragrances, Diesel, Disney Store, DKNY, Dooney & Bourke, Ecko Unltd, Eddie Bauer, Elizabeth Arden, Fossil, G.H. Bass & Co., G-Star Raw, Gap, Guess, Hugo Boss, Izod, J.Crew, Jones New York, Jos. A. Bank, Juicy Couture, Kasper, Kate Spade New York, Kenneth Cole, Kipling, Loft, Maidenform, McDonald’s, Nathan’s International Eatery, Nautica, NauticaKids, Nine West, The North Face, Oakley Vault, OshKosh B’gosh, PacSun, Perfumania, Perry Ellis, Puma, Reebok, Rockport, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Samsonite, Skechers, Solstice Sunglass, Sony, South Philly Steak & Fries, Sperry Top-Sider, Superdry, Sunglass Hut, Swarovski, Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger Kids, Toys “R” Us, True Religion Brand Jeans, Tumi, UGG Australia, Under Armour, Van Heusen, Vera Bradley, Vilebrequin, Vitamin World

As one email from Menlo Park Mall management put it, the shopping hours are “designed to meet customers’ needs and reflect changing consumer behavior.” And, “It also allows shoppers greater flexibility and further helps accommodate their already busy schedules.” But how many people have really ever gone out to shop at 5 pm on Thanksgiving?

These corporations are not responding to “changing consumer behavior.” They are trying to change consumer behavior themselves and create a tradition, where families end their gatherings earlier in the evenings and go out to shop instead of continuing to enjoy the warmth of one another.

Plus, what about meeting “workers’ needs”? How about accommodating their “already busy schedules” on Thanksgiving, which involve spending time with family?

Executives’ answer is to insultingly offer “perks” to their employees. Wal-Mart is giving employees who work a “25% discount on a holiday season purchase” and “an additional day’s pay, which will equal the worker’s average daily pay in the 12 previous weeks.” (That may be a sad statement on the low wages Walmart pays its workers.)

At Toys “R” Us, workers will be able to wear jeans and sneakers. One mall owned by Simon will host a “five-hour, multi-course Thanksgiving dinner catered by a local gourmet market for employees.” Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, which claims workers “enjoy working on holidays, will “provide festive holiday additions, including meals, to make the atmosphere as familial as possible.”

Most insultingly, Kohl’s will provide funds for stores “to help ensure the day is a fun one for associates,” whatever the hell that means.

Key “perks” missing, however—what do you think they might be? Family and friends. The people that these poor workers might want to spend the holiday with. And the home where one would typically enjoy the company of these people.

Also, maybe it is not a “perk” to eat a gross meal that consists of over-processed low-grade food that is teeming with salty and fatty ingredients and plagued with food-borne bacteria due to the fact that the store location had to feed a massive group of people.

There are multiple petitions, which have been signed by tens of thousands of people urging stores to not open today. About 1,500 demonstrations are expected to be held at Walmart stores by people, including employees, who see Walmart as being a key driver of this assault on the family holiday.

Walmart recognizes the threat posed by this movement resisting their creep into Americans’ holiday as they have filed trespassing lawsuits in five states and convinced judges in at least two that protesters should be banned from their private property.

The corporation has also retaliated against its workers for participating in demonstrations. The National Labor Relations Board explained in a landmark ruling, “Walmart unlawfully threatened employees with reprisal if they engaged in strikes and protests on November 22, 2012.” And, “Walmart stores in California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington unlawfully threatened, disciplined, and/or terminated employees for having engaged in legally protected strikes and protests.”

I am thankful for the workers who are taking a stand against these corporations’ offensive on the holiday. They deserve to be celebrated.

One example of resistance gaining widespread attention—in addition to planned “Black Friday” protests at Walmart—is a general manager at a Pizza Hut in Elkhart, IN, who stood up to the biggest pizza chain in the world. He refused to open his location and have his workers staff the location on Thanksgiving.

The man, Tony Rohr, was asked to pen a letter of resignation and, instead, wrote the following:

I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company… I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.

Now, I was born and raised as a Hoosier in Indiana so this story resonates with me and I applaud this man for having the courage to take a stand and not back down, even when he knew he could lose his job.

In Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts, stores are banned under “blue laws” from opening on Thanksgiving. These laws date back to colonial times and laws like this should be readopted in states all over the country.

Apple, Costco, Patagonia, REI, RadioShack, P.C. Richard & Son, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom, American Girl, Ross, and Burlington Coat Factory are all retail chains that do not think they have to ruin their workers’ Thanksgivings to have success as a business this holiday season.

What Americans need to realize is that when they choose to go shopping on Thanksgiving, they are making it more acceptable in our society for stores to not give their workers the choice to stay home with their families during the holiday. Poor people, who cannot refuse to work, should be able to celebrate Thanksgiving when they want to celebrate it just like you.

…AND NOW FOR A BRIEF THANKSGIVING NOTE.

Because of the history of the slaughtering of Native Americans that is glossed over when we celebrate, there is a lot about this holiday that is problematic (to say the least). Presidents these days will charmingly pardon turkeys even as they refuse to pardon people in prison who should be freed from jail. However, it does bring family and friends together. At this point, it is one of the few days of the year that we Americans seem to have the decency to slow our lives down and appreciate who and what we have around us.

It encourages us to reflect on what we can be grateful for in our lives. And so, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

Thank you to my readers. Thank you to my colleagues here at FDL. Thank you to the journalists out there who are willing to publish the truth. Thank you to the rabble rousers and troublemakers out there, who give me something important to write about each and every day.

Photo by Det N., used under Creative Commons license

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

For the Poor Workers Who Won’t Get to Spend Their Thanksgiving at Home

I am spending Thanksgiving with family and will be at home enjoying their company all day while I eat plenty of food. However, there are millions of workers in the United States that will not share my experience. They are victims of a shift in this consumer society. They do not have a choice and will have to report to work.

First off, these workers are not being asked to staff “pre-Black Friday” sales. They are being called in to store locations to staff Thanksgiving Day sales and should not be allowed to attach “pre-” to Black Friday in a manner which the late comedian George Carlin would have totally skewered.

Walmart Stores, Inc. will have just over a million workers reporting to locations, which is about 70 percent of the people the big box store employs nationwide.

Over 900 Old Navy locations will actually be open from 9 am to 4 pm this Thanksgiving. Then, after three hours, the retailer will continue its “unprecedented 29 hours of Black Friday shopping,” and re-open at 7 pm.

Dollar General will have Thanksgiving hours and be open 7 am to 7 pm. Some Toys “R” Us locations are opening at 5 pm with “four hour deals.” Michael’s will be open at 4 pm.

“Last year, millions of people made it clear that they wanted to shop on Thanksgiving evening,” according to Best Buy. So this electronic retailer will open at 6 pm.

Target, Staples, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods will open at 8 pm.

Around the country, hundreds of Simon malls are opening at 6 pm.

Simon’s Premium Outlets locations with the following stores will have their workers reporting to locations at 6 pm:

 2b bebe, AIX Armani Exchange, Adidas, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, BareMinerals, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Carter’s, The Children’s Place, Cinnabon, Claire’s Accessories, Coach, Coach Men’s, Cole Haan, Converse, Crocs, Desert Moon, Designer Fragrances, Diesel, Disney Store, DKNY, Dooney & Bourke, Ecko Unltd, Eddie Bauer, Elizabeth Arden, Fossil, G.H. Bass & Co., G-Star Raw, Gap, Guess, Hugo Boss, Izod, J.Crew, Jones New York, Jos. A. Bank, Juicy Couture, Kasper, Kate Spade New York, Kenneth Cole, Kipling, Loft, Maidenform, McDonald’s, Nathan’s International Eatery, Nautica, NauticaKids, Nine West, The North Face, Oakley Vault, OshKosh B’gosh, PacSun, Perfumania, Perry Ellis, Puma, Reebok, Rockport, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Samsonite, Skechers, Solstice Sunglass, Sony, South Philly Steak & Fries, Sperry Top-Sider, Superdry, Sunglass Hut, Swarovski, Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Hilfiger Kids, Toys “R” Us, True Religion Brand Jeans, Tumi, UGG Australia, Under Armour, Van Heusen, Vera Bradley, Vilebrequin, Vitamin World

As one email from Menlo Park Mall management put it, the shopping hours are “designed to meet customers’ needs and reflect changing consumer behavior.” And, “It also allows shoppers greater flexibility and further helps accommodate their already busy schedules.” But how many people have really ever gone out to shop at 5 pm on Thanksgiving?

These corporations are not responding to “changing consumer behavior.” They are trying to change consumer behavior themselves and create a tradition, where families end their gatherings earlier in the evenings and go out to shop instead of continuing to enjoy the warmth of one another.

Plus, what about meeting “workers’ needs”? How about accommodating their “already busy schedules” on Thanksgiving, which involve spending time with family? [cont’d.]

Previous post

CNN Wants War, Edits Russian Interview on Syria to promote War!... Iraq?

Next post

For the Poor Workers Who Won't Get to Spend Their Thanksgiving at Home

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

9 Comments