Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Black Friday’

These corporations have declared war on Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

For the last decade or so, dozens of the world’s largest retailers have shifted the unofficial start date of the holiday shopping season one day forward, from Black Friday — so named because it’s the busiest shopping day of the year and pushes retailers’ bottom lines into the black — to Thanksgiving Day.

So instead of sitting down to a family dinner, corporations like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and others coerce or sometimes force hundreds of thousands of minimum wage employees and countless more shoppers to forego the federal holiday and instead work extra long shifts hawking cheap televisions, refrigerators, or Nickelback CDs.

Defenders of the practice argue that if shoppers didn’t want to be out buying holiday presents on Thanksgiving Day, they would simply stay home. But many of the shoppers who turn up do so because the same retail stores often reserve their best deals for the first people through the door. If you’re from a lower income family and can only afford certain gifts if the price is right, showing up when a store opens isn’t so much a choice as it is a necessity.

The pressure to skip Thanksgiving is even greater on the hundreds of thousands of employees who work at big box stores. Many store managers make it hard or even impossible for their hourly workers to take off on Thanksgiving. Others who have tried to stand up for their employees have themselves been fired by corporate executives for not opening on Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, after years of push-back from shoppers and employees, some retailers are beginning to rethink the practice. For the last seven years, ThinkProgress has provided our readers with a shopping guide to the stores that are remaining closed for the duration of Thanksgiving—and the ones that are not. Our list is far from comprehensive, but we’ve tried to offer a range of retail categories. This holiday season, consider giving your business to the stores that are treating their workers with some civility, and withholding it from those that are not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author: Adam Peck is a Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Adam grew up just outside of New York City, and attended Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. Before joining ThinkProgress, Adam was an intern at Countdown with Keith Olbermann at MSNBC in New York, and at Campus Progress in Washington, D.C. He was also the founder and editor of Think Magazine, the largest collegiate news organization on Long Island. His work has appeared in The New York Times, CNN and the BBC.

Kohls Worker Details Her Insane Schedule Through Black Friday

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Bryce CovertConnie Miller isn’t really sure when she’s going to be able to get some sleep over the next three days.

She’ll be working at Kohl’s the day before Thanksgiving, on the holiday itself, and on Black Friday. Her shift on Wednesday ends at 12:30 a.m., and with her half-hour commute, she’ll be home by 1 a.m. Then she’ll have to wake up early so she can get an entire Thanksgiving meal for 15 family members cooked and ready to eat by the time they start to arrive at her house from all over the country at noon. She’ll leave that celebration at 5, arriving at work by 5:30 and working until just after midnight. Then she’ll have to be back at work on Black Friday by 6 in the morning for another eight-and-a-half hour shift. “They don’t even give you time to come home and actually go to sleep before you’re due back,” she said.

“It’s tough, it’s just really tough being open on Thanksgiving,” she added. “I just plan on doing a lot of Red Bull.”

The experience has cast a pallor over her holidays. She knows what it’s going to be like having done nearly the same thing last year. “You hate the holidays. It’s exhausting,” she said. “It’s not a fun time. It’s a time to be dreaded. Because I can’t be with my family.”

Kohl’s did not respond to a request for comment. But it’s not the only employer making its employees jump through hoops to be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Eleven brands will be open on the holiday this year, and employees at Kmart, for example, say they weren’t given the option to volunteer or sign up for shifts that fit their schedules and can even risk being fired if they call out for a scheduled holiday shift.

Miller wasn’t given any option to pick her holiday schedule. She says she and her coworkers have been told that they’re not allowed to ask for any time off during the week of Thanksgiving or the week of Christmas. She fears that if she were to call out on Thanksgiving Day, she would be all but dropped from future schedules, losing her income. She’s not sure she would do it anyway. “I’d kind of like to call off, we’d all like to call off. But all it’s going to is make the people I work with in jewelry, their night even harder,” she said. “They’re going to have to hustle even more because I’m not there.”

While she’s technically a part-time employee, she will be scheduled for far more than the typical 25-26 hours a week during these times. But it’s not like she’s given much heads up. She only found out her Thanksgiving schedule ten days ago — leaving little time to adjust holiday plans — and still doesn’t know when she’ll have to work during the Christmas season. “They disrespect us so incredibly by not even telling us the most basic thing,” she said. All without any promise of extra holiday pay.

She finds the whole ordeal particularly ironic at her store. It plays a promo on its overhead speakers telling shoppers that it values family, she said. “We’re working on Thanksgiving… If you valued family, we’d be at home.”

This blog originally appeared at ThinkProgress.org on November 25, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.

GameStop Employees Will Be Able To Spend Thanksgiving With Family, Friends, And PlayStations

Monday, October 12th, 2015

Bryce CovertGameStop and all of its brands will keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving Day this year so that its workers can stay home and celebrate the holiday.

All GameStop, Spring Mobile, Simply Mac, Cricket Wireless, and ThinkGeek stores will stay closed on November 26. They’ll re-open at 5 a.m. local time on Black Friday.

“We believe strongly that our customers and associates should have the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday relaxing with family and friends,” said Mike Buskey, executive vice president and president of U.S. stores, said in a press release announcing the decision. “We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday.”

It’s the second brand to make the announcement that it won’t open on the holiday and require workers to come in so far this year: last week Staples said it would also close, reversing its decision for the past two years to be open. (GameStop closed last year as well.)

But it’s likely that many stores will once again be open for shopping on the national holiday, as 12 decided to do last year. While companies often say that their stores are only staffed by volunteers who want the extra hours, workers have reported a different story. Those at Target and Kmart said they weren’t allowed to request the day off and risked termination for refusing to come to work if they were scheduled on that day.

Others were outspoken about deciding to stay closed. Beyond GameStop, 17 shut their doors, many of them citing the fact that they wanted to respect their employees’ ability to celebrate a holiday with friends and family.

They may also have made a financial calculation. Last year’s holiday sales numbers showed that while more people shopped on Thanksgiving Day, fewer shopped on Black Friday, meaning no net increase for stores that opened on the holiday. There was also a strong consumer backlash against the idea of being open, as well as a legislative one.

This blog originally appeared at ThinkProgress.org on October 8, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Institute’s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.

Striking Walmart Workers Stage L.A. Sit-Downs at Stores and in the Street

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Image: Mike HallIn Los Angeles yesterday, Walmart workers participated in their boldest action to date: the first-ever sit-down strike at a Walmart store. They were protesting an end to retaliation when they speak out for $15 an hour, full-time hours and respect at work.

The striking workers entered the Crenshaw Walmart shortly before 10 a.m. PST and refused to move, holding a sit-in near cash registers and racks at the store. The workers chanted, “Stand Up, Live Better! Sit Down, Live Better!” before placing tape over their mouths signifying the company’s attempts to silence workers who are calling for better jobs.

After several hours, they left peacefully and headed to another Los Angeles-area store, where they held a rally. Then workers and their supporters took over the intersection near the Pico Rivera Walmart, refusing to leave until they were arrested and removed from the intersection. A total of 28 people were arrested, including clergy, community members and strikers.

Paramount Walmart worker Martha Sellers said:

“I’m striking today for workers like Evelin, Victoria, Rosa, Maria Elena and Graciela who Walmart retaliated against for standing up for change. Walmart and the Waltons need to know that they can’t silence us all.”

Sellers was referring to the owners of Walmart, the Walton family, the richest family in America who own nearly $150 billion in wealth while most Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year. Kiana Howard, a mother and Walmart striker, said she took part in the sit-down “to protest Walmart’s illegal fear tactics and to send a message to management and the Waltons that they can’t continue to silence us and dismiss the growing calls for $15 an hour and full-time work.”  She added:

“Walmart and the Waltons are making billions of dollars from our work while paying most of us less than $25,000 a year. We know that Walmart and the Waltons can afford fair pay, and we know that we have the right to speak out about it without the company threatening the little that we do have.”

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO.org on November 14, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Corporate-Greed/Striking-Walmart-Workers-Stage-L.A.-Sit-Downs-at-Stores-and-in-the-Street.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journaland managing editor of the Seafarers Log.  He came to the AFL- CIO in 1989 and has written for several federation publications, focusing on legislation and politics, especially grassroots mobilization and workplace safety.

37,000 Target Employees Sign Petition To Protest Working Long Hours On Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

DiamondMarie1It’s no secret that to boost profits during a down economy, many retailers have put the squeeze on their employees to work longer and harder for less and less. That pressure only increases during the holiday season, when stores try to woo consumers with marathon sales and midnight openings. Workers are often forced to choose between being with their families or working long hours on holidays to keep their jobs.

Now, thousands of employees are standing up to the retail giant Target to protest the long hoursthey’re being required to work on Thanksigiving:

Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. (TGT) on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.

Target, Macy’s Inc. (M), Gap Inc. (GPS), Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.

Hardwick, 29…began the petition two weeks ago on the website Change.org after learning that he and his coworkers would be required to start at 11 p.m. Nov. 24 for a 10-hour shift. […] “Everyone at work was resigned because the economy is bad and so our employer has us over a barrel.”

Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, is typically retailers’ most lucrative day of the year, and some stores have begun to extend their hours to Thanksgiving day itself to give themselves an edge. Hardwick says he fears losing his job for starting the protest and speaking to the media. Target has yet to respond to the petition. But as Hardwick pointed out, because of the tough job market companies know that their workers have little choice but to comply with their demands or be fired.

Target in particular has a bad track record when it comes to respecting workers’ rights. It has repeatedly tried to discourage employees from unionizing, and the National Labor Relations Board has opened a case alleging that Target illegally intimidated workers before a union vote.

This blog originally appeared on ThinkProgress on November 15, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Marie Diamond is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org. She hails from the great metropolis of Temple, TX. She holds a B.A. in political science from Yale and was a Yale Journalism Scholar. Before joining ThinkProgress, she worked at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and communications firm. She has also interned for The American Prospect and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and has done development work in South Africa and Kazakhstan.

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