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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

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.

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.

 

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.

Workers say Walmart's 'Extra Day's Pay' for Thanksgiving is a Sham

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Laura ClawsonTo make it sound less problematic that its stores are opening at 6 pm on Thanksgiving, Walmart has been telling anyone who’ll listen that it’s giving “an extra day’s pay” to those working the holiday. Awesome! Now tell me what you mean by “day.”

No, silly, Walmart doesn’t mean everyone who works Thanksgiving gets eight hours of extra pay. They get the average of the hours they’ve worked over the previous two weeks. And that’s where some Walmart workers say the problems lie:

Gertz and other Wal-Mart workers say their hours are cut prior to the holidays, so their average daily wage also goes down.Last year, Gertz’s hours were cut by five hours a week before the holiday. Her hours were also cut in the weeks after the holiday, which bit into her paychecks further. She said some associates in her store had their hours slashed from 40 per week to 24 in the weeks after.

Raise your hand if this sounds like something Walmart wouldn’t do. [A handful of Walmart spokespeople raise their hands, alone.] Because that’s Walmart: consistently adding the insult of pretending they’re really generous to the injury of poverty wages and poor treatment. Not unlike pretending it’s a kind, caring thing to hold a food drive for their workers who can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner on Walmart pay.

10:17 AM PT: Walmart points out that the worker quoted in this story didn’t work Thanksgiving last year. It continues to not rebut the claim that it cuts workers’ hours ahead of giving them “extra” pay.

This article was originally printed in Daily Kos on November 22, 2013.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at Daily Kos.

Yes, 87,500 Macy’s Workers Won’t Get Thanksgiving Holiday, But That’s Not Their Biggest Concern

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Bruce VailDepartment store chain Macy’s, known for its lavish Thanksgiving Day parade, is taking heat for canceling the holiday for many of its 175,000 employees. On Oct. 13, the Chicago Sun-Times reported the news that Macy plans to break with its 155-year practice of closing its stores on Thanksgiving Day.

Macy’s spokesperson Holly Thomas confirmed to Working In These Times that about 750 of the company’s 850 stores nationwide will be opened at 8 pm, requiring some 87,500 workers to give up a part of their traditional family holiday. But she stressed that no employees would be required to report to work against their will and that a sufficient number of volunteers had already been recruited. Further, those workers will all receive time-and-a-half holiday pay for their full shifts, Thomas says.

And surprisingly, the largest union local representing Macy’s workers had a similar take. Gail Rogers, Secretary-Treasurer of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 1-S, which has over 3,500 members in New York City and nearby Westchester County, says she sees no reason to criticize Macy’s as long as the company honors its union contracts. “We received notice a couple of months ago, and Macy’s will be honoring our contract. Nobody is going to be forced to work if they prefer to celebrate the holiday, and the volunteers will all be getting time-and-a-half. Plenty of our members are willing… so there aren’t a lot of complaints,” she says.

So is this a tempest in a teapot? Rogers says that there is still one concern: While union workers are protected, non-union workers have no one to ensure Macy’s keeps its word.

“My concern would be for the non-union workers” at Macy’s and its subsidiary Bloomingdales, Rogers says. “Without a good union contract, it’s easy to see how the voluntary nature of the work, and the premium pay, might fall by the wayside as time goes by.”

Only about 10 percent of Macy’s workers are unionized, according to the company’s most recentSecurities & Exchange Commission disclosure statement, with pockets of union strength in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Aside from RWDSU, workers are unionized through the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), Teamsters, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Unite Here.

Both RWDSU and UFCW have organizing efforts underway to increase union membership at Macy’s stores, but the company is offering stiff resistance.

For example, Seattle-based UFCW Local 21 is currently trying to organize a Macy’s store in Silverado, Wash., in hopes of adding to the four stores it already represents in the area. A June 28 report in the Kitsap Sun indicated the union had filed unfair labor practice charges against the store in the bitter dispute. UFCW Local 21 Communications Director Tom Geiger did not respond to several requests for comment from Working In These Times.

A similar situation in the San Francisco Bay area culminated in July 2011 with a union election victory by UFCW Local 5 at a Macy’s store in Pleasanton, Calif. In a press statement at the time, Local 5 spokesperson Mike Henneberry said the union had overcome “aggressive employer resistance” to win the National Labor Relations Board-supervised election. The victory increased the number of Macy’s stores under Local 5 contract from two to three. Like Geiger, Henneberrry did not respond to requests for comment this week from Working In These Times.

Yet another organizing effort by Dedham, Mass.-based UFCW Local 1445 is even receiving special attention by federal regulators. Local 1445 is currently seeking a union election among a small group of cosmetics and perfume salespersons at the Macy’s store in Saugus, Mass., but the company is fighting the election as an improper interpretation of federal labor law. The case is now before the NLRB, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has dubbed the cosmetics and perfume sales staff an improper “micro-union” and is encouraging federal lawmakers to support a new labor law to restrict such organizing efforts. Local 1445 President Rick Charette did not respond to a request for comment.

RWDSU’s Rogers tells Working In These Times that efforts to expand the jurisdiction of Local 1-S have been met with similar determined resistance over the years. The organizing efforts contributed to an especially difficult contract negotiation in 2011. That was the same year that Local 1-S has a successful campaign to organize new Macy’s workers in the Elmhurst neighborhood in city’s borough of Queens.

For the unions then, the end of the Thanksgiving holiday at Macy’s is not so much an occason for outrage as the latest step in a long national trend that reinforces the need for union representation. As Macy’s noted in its own defense, Thanksgiving openings are increasingly common among large retailers anxious to begin the Christmas shopping season. Wal-Mart, for example opened its doors at 10pm on Thanksgiving in 2011, and pushed the time back to 8pm in 2012. Employers asking for more from workers is a tale as old as business; and historically, it’s been the job of unions to make sure workers’ rights aren’t trampled.

One non-union Macy’s employee, Lorraine Riley-James of Chicago, is peeved by the Thanksgiving openings. “It’s just unfair. It’s selfish. I hate it,” she says. An activist in the Chicago-area Fight for 15 campaign for higher wages in the retail and fast food industries, Riley-James regards the Macy’s decision as a unilateral move to take away one of the few paid holidays enjoyed by retail workers. “They really took it away from us last year when they started the midnight openings [on Black Friday]. … You have to come in earlier to get ready, [so it] ruins the holiday.”

Riley-Jones says she plans to contInue her activism for higher wages and better benefits for workers at Macy’s and elsewhere.

This article was originally printed on Working In These Times on October 18, 2o13.  Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Bruce Vail is a Baltimore-based freelance writer with decades of experience covering labor and business stories for newspapers, magazines and new media. He was a reporter for Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Labor Report, covering collective bargaining issues in a wide range of industries, and a maritime industry reporter and editor for the Journal of Commerce, serving both in the newspaper’s New York City headquarters and in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

Walmart’s Black Thursday Hits Paducah

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

James Vetato planned to spend Black Friday wearing out shoe leather on a picket line at the Southside Walmart in Paducah, Ky.

“Now I’ll be there Thanksgiving night, too,” Vetato said. “Walmart has announced it will be open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, which will prevent a lot of the associates from spending the holiday with their families.”

Vetato, 47, is an organizer with OUR Walmart—Organization United for Respect at Walmart—a national association of current and former Walmart employees, several thousand strong, who will be walking picket lines and striking at dozens of Walmart stores across the country on Turkey Day and Black Friday.

OUR Walmart wants to shine a national spotlight on Walmart’s abuse of its workers, Vetato said. The organization chose the day after Thanksgiving because it is the busiest shopping day of the year.

We are fighting to win respect and improve working conditions for all associates.

Vetato, who worked at the store he will be picketing, hopes OUR Walmart will become a union.

Before I worked at Walmart I wasn’t that big on unions. I didn’t think a union was a bad thing. I just didn’t know anything about unions. Now I think every workplace should be unionized.

According to Vetato, OUR Walmart has about 15 members in historic Paducah, where the Tennessee and Ohio rivers merge. “We’re relatively new so we’re not that big. But our numbers are growing.”

Vetato said the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is providing financial backing and other valuable help to OUR Walmart, some of whose members, including Vetato, have demonstrated at Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

AFL-CIO-affiliated unions support Vetato’s group, too. “We stand in solidarity with the Walmart workers and will be glad to help them in any way we can,” said United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9447 President Jeff Wiggins, who is also president of the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council.

Vetato said fear is keeping more Walmart workers from joining OUR Walmart.

There aren’t that many jobs around here. But Walmart has pushed people so hard, they have decided enough is enough and they are not going to take it anymore.

Vetato said management drove him to quit the Southside store after two years.

It all started after I was speaking with an associate in the back room who was complaining about the way things were. I said things would be better if everybody stood together and took our problems to management.

A manager overheard the conversation, according to Vetato. “He said he was sick of my kind coming into the store and undermining what he was doing. He doubled my workload and cut my hours.”

But what really made me say ‘enough is enough’ was when he made some inappropriate comments about my 15-year-old daughter. I complained to the store manager and he told me he didn’t have time to micromanage the store.
James Vetato and son.

Vetato has worked at odd jobs since he left Walmart in October 2011. “When I apply some place and say I worked at Walmart and they call Walmart, I suspect Walmart won’t give me a good recommendation,” he said.

Meanwhile, the OUR Walmart actions began in October in Southern California when, for the first time ever, employees went on a one-day strike. Said Vetato:

Across the country, Walmart employees have filed many, many unfair labor practice charges against the company because of the way the company is treating them. Walmart refuses to address our concerns, even those that would help the company. If you speak out, you face retaliation.

Walmart, which is fiercely anti-union, has put out training videos aimed at discrediting OUR Walmart, according to Vetato. “They say all we are trying to do is take your money and get your personal information and cause trouble.”

Vetato said Walmart’s current business model includes canceling profit sharing for associates, increasing their health care costs by 36% and reducing their hours.

They are really trying to push full-time and older employees out the door and replace them with younger and part-time people.

This article was originally posted on AFL-CIO NOW on November 21, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Berry Craig is a recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council and a professor of history at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, is a former daily newspaper and Associated Press columnist and currently a member of AFT Local 1360.

National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Image: James Parks

Workers, community leaders and religious activists are holding rallies, prayer vigils and other actions in more than 40 cities around the country today as part of a National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft.

Wage theft is a national epidemic, which robs millions of workers of billions of dollars they’ve worked for but never seen, says Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) and author of the book Wage Theft in America.

During a Capitol Hill press conference this morning, Bobo said:

Too many workers can’t buy a Thanksgiving turkey because employers have stolen their wages. Wage theft is not a small, isolated situation. It’s a national epidemic.

Wage theft affects workers like Cleve Williams, who worked for a city contractor in Cincinnati. Williams told the press conference he was fired after he organized his fellow workers to fight for a living wage. The city’s law required the comapny, which holds a city contract, to pay a minimum wage. But Williams says it took three years to get the wages raised to the legal level.

Bobo cited a study by the National Employment Law Project, which shows how widespread wage theft has become. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 4,387 workers in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, a group of respected academics estimates that 68 percent of the workers surveyed are routinely denied proper overtime pay and often are paid less than minimum wage. The average low-wage worker lost more than $2,600 in annual income due to the violations, 15 percent of their annual earnings. Click here to read the report, “Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers.”

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, speaking to the press conference by phone, said the nation’s economy suffers when millions of workers are denied their just pay. Unions are the first line of defense against wage theft, she added. With a union contract, workers don’t have to worry about not getting paid for overtime or not getting a decent, living wage and other benefits.

Wage theft is not only an economic issue, but a moral one, says Thomas Shellabarger, of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As we pause this Thanksgiving to remember all that we are thankful for, we also remember the workers across the nation whose wages are stolen and struggle to put a meal on their holiday table. We must put an end to this national scandal of wage theft.

*This article originally appeared in AFL-CIO blog on November 19, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

**For more information on unpaid wages visit our Workplace Fairness resource page.

About the Author: James Parks had his first encounter with unions at Gannett’s newspaper in Cincinnati when his colleagues in the newsroom tried to organize a unit of The Newspaper Guild. He saw firsthand how companies pull out all the stops to prevent workers from forming a union. He is a journalist by trade, and worked for newspapers in five different states before joining the AFL-CIO staff in 1990. He has also been a seminary student, drug counselor, community organizer, event planner, adjunct college professor and county bureaucrat. His proudest career moment, though, was when he served, along with other union members and staff, as an official observer for South Africa’s first multiracial elections. Author photo by Joe Kekeris

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