Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Spare a thought for workers who don't get a Thanksgiving holiday

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

LauraClawsonThere are jobs that have to be done on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other day of the year. We need doctors and nurses and firefighters and police. Then there are jobs that don’t have to be done … but workers are forced to do them anyway, because profit. Because the workers aren’t given a choice, other than the choice between working on Thanksgiving or losing their jobs.

So if you’re lucky enough to be sitting down to a big Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones today (or for that matter if you’re Netflix binging or spending the day in silent meditation), spare a thought for those who are forced to skip the holiday to work. Spare a thought also for people who can’t afford the big meal with turkey and all the trimmings—and remember that many of the very same people working at Walmart and Target fall into that category, or barely escape it.

If you’re thinking about heading out for a little shopping after dinner, remember that workers had to be there hours earlier. Remember that many of them don’t want to be there, even if they don’t feel able to speak out publicly or put their names to petitions saying so. And remember that common reasons to be glad to work the holiday include not getting paid holidays off of work, and being so underpaid that extra pay for working a holiday could mean the difference between paying the bills and not paying the bills.

Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, it shouldn’t be a symbol of the race to the bottom.

This blog was originally posted on Daily Kos on November 26, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006  and Labor editor since 2011.

Macy’s Will Make Employees Work On Thanksgiving Day

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

think progressMacy’s announced on Thursday that its doors will be open this holiday season, starting at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening. Sales will continue through Black Friday and the weekend in over 700 of its retail stores nationwide.

Macy’s, along with 12 other major retailers like Target, Best Buy, and JCPenny, made employees come in to work on Thanksgiving Day in last year. Yet 18 other stores were closed.

This year, Staples, which was among those open on the holiday last year, confirmed it will not be open on Thanksgiving. Mattress Firm, REI, GameStop, and PC Richards and Son will also close their doors, allowing thousands of retail workers to celebrate the holiday at home. REI went a step further to close on Black Friday as well, and will even pay its employees for their time off, encouraging them to spend time outdoors.

Retail stores that were open last year in hopes of boosting their holiday sales didn’t increase overall holiday purchases. Transactions simply shifted from what shoppers would have spent on Black Friday to the holiday itself, rather than increasing the number of overall sales. Strong consumer and legislative backlash against the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving could also be curbing the trend of stores opening on the holidays. Polls from last year showed that half of Americans thought opening on Thanksgiving Day was a bad idea.

This blog originally appeared at ThinkProgress.org on October 29, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Jess Colarossi is an intern at ThinkProgress. She is currently working on her B.A. in Journalism and minoring in Environmental Studies and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston, M.A. She previously interned at Environment Massachusetts and was president of Emerson’s environmental action organization. She has written previously for a number of campus publications covering music, health, and local news. Jessica is originally from Lindenhurst, New York.

 

U.S. Chamber to Members: It’s Cool to Make Your Employees Work on Christmas

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

This is a cross-post by Christy Setzer from U.S. Chamber Watch.

Dragging a little today? Desperately trying to focus on work while wishing you were still on a beach? Just be glad you don’t work for a member company of the U.S. Chamber of Congress—you might not have gotten that vacation at all.

In a toolkit for small business owners on the Chamber’s website, the lobbying organization advises modern-day Scrooge employers: “If you need to, you can require that [employees] work on Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, or any other traditional holiday.”

It’s a policy that other large corporations have already taken heat for. Over Thanksgiving, an enterprising Target employee called attention to the consequences of ever-earlier Black “Friday” sales (some starting on Thursday evening) for store employees: not getting to enjoy the holiday with their own families. More than 200,000 employees and customers signed a petition asking Target to drop the family-unfriendly policy, with copycat petitions formed against Kohl’s, Wal-Mart and other big-box stores with similar holiday hours.

The Chamber’s advice may not be surprising for an organization that’s also opposed the 40-hour workweek, paid family and medical leave, and even the federal minimum wage, but no doubt its member companies are taking note: Listen to this particular Dear Abby, only with a great deal of caution.

This blog appeared in AFL-CIO Now Blog on January 3, 2012. Reprinted with permission.


Wal-Mart’s Rob Walton Wins JWJ’s Scrooge of the Year

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Image: Mike HallHe beat out some tough competition, but Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart’s board of directors, is the top vote getter in the 11th annual Jobs with Justice (JWJ) Scrooge of the Year election.

Walton deemed a “billionaire bully” by Brave New Films, has an estimated net worth around $21 billion, JWJ reports. As a family, the Waltons control 49 percent of Wal-Mart and are, says JWJ, the richest family in the United States, with a combined net worth is $93 billion. The Walton Family has as much wealth as the bottom 30 percent of American families combined—more than 35 million families.

The family’s dividends from their Wal-Mart stock alone are more than $2 billion a year. Just using their dividends, they could ensure that a million Wal-Mart employees make at least $12 an hour instead of the current average of $8.81 an hour.

Just last month Wal-Mart, under Rob’s leadership, slashed health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart employees and their families—right before the holidays. What a scrooge!

Click here to learn more about the runners up, the American Legislative Exchange Council, Publix supermarkets and Eddie Hull University of Massachusetts director of housing and residential life.

This blog originally appeared in AFL-CIO Now blog on December 22, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Mike Hall is a former West Virginia newspaper reporter, staff writer for the United Mine Workers Journal and 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. He carried union cards from the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, American Flint Glass Workers and Teamsters for jobs in a chemical plant, a mining equipment manufacturing plant and a warehouse. He’s also worked as roadie for a small-time country-rock band, sold blood plasma, and played an occasional game of poker to help pay the rent. You may have seen him at one of several hundred Grateful Dead shows. He was the one with longhair and the tie-dye. Still has the shirts, lost the hair.

Layaway Santas Help Kmart Customers Pay Off Christmas Gifts

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Laura ClawsonKmart probably hasn’t made this much news since its 2002 bankruptcy filing. And this time, it’s warmer fuzzier news:

At Kmart stores across the country, Santa seems to be getting some help: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts other families couldn’t afford, especially toys and children’s clothes set aside by impoverished parents. […]

The benefactors generally ask to help families who are squirreling away items for young children. They often pay a portion of the balance, usually all but a few dollars or cents so the layaway order stays in the store’s system.

Hamilton Nolan makes the point that needed to be made: “Of course, it could be an incredibly effective (and cheap!) PR stunt by K-Mart,” but even he continues, “but if it helps to encourage a nationwide outpouring of Christmas charity, well, we’re willing to overlook it.” Indeed: Kmart still sucks as an employer, the fact that people have to use layaway because they can’t afford to pay all at once for Kmart clothes for their kids sucks, but then again, stories of anxiety and want being alleviated don’t suck:

A Kmart in Plainfield Township, Mich., called Roberta Carter last week to let her know a man had paid all but 40 cents of her $60 layaway.

Carter, a mother of eight from Grand Rapids, Mich., said she cried upon hearing the news. She and her family have been struggling as she seeks a full-time job.

“My kids will have clothes for Christmas,” she said.

This post originally appeared in Daily Kos Labor on December 19, 2011. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is labor editor at Daily Kos. She has a PhD in sociology from Princeton University and has taught at Dartmouth College. From 2008 to 2011, she was senior writer at Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.

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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