There was a time when the vast majority of American workers not only didn’t work on Thanksgiving but they didn’t work on Sundays.
Many states had Sunday blue laws at least until the 1970s that prohibited retailers from opening up their stores on the Christian “Sabbath.” This was so Americans could go to church and spend time with their families.
Now, there really are only two or three days that most retail workers can look forward to spending a holiday with their families – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. But Thanksgiving is under assault, thanks to corporate America’s desire to get the edge on the competition and squeeze every cent they can out of the American consumer.
Some workers aren’t taking it lying down.
Target employees have launched an on-line petition, and now some Wal-Mart Stores workers have walked of the job, protesting low wages, spiking health care premiums and alleged retaliation from management.
About a dozen workers in Wal-Mart’s distribution warehouses in Southern California walked out on Wednesday, followed the next day by 30 more from six stores in the Seattle area. The workers are part of a union-backed employee coalition called, Making Change at Wal-Mart. They say this is the beginning of a wave of protests and strikes leading up to next week’s Black Friday.
A thousand Wal-Mart store protests are planned in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., the group says.
Target has been harshly critized since an employee petition at the online petition site Change.org went viral. Titled, “Target Take the high road and save Thanksgiving,” the petition has been signed by more than 228,000 users as of Friday morning.
Could this be the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back?
According to Making Change at Wal-Mart: “As the largest private employer in the United States and the world, Walmart is setting the standard for jobs. That standard is so low that hundreds of thousands of its employees are living in poverty—even many that work full time.” The group is supported by the United Food & Commercial Workers.
In the petition at Change.org, a Target employee identified as “C. Renee” tells Target’s Chief Executive Officer: “I’m not complaining about being a minimum wage worker. Target, as a company, does some good and maintains a commitment to charity. Thanksgiving, though, is one of the three days retail workers get off a year, a day most spend with family … A 9pm opening disgusts me and symbolizes everything that is wrong with this country. Give Thanksgiving back to families. The world won’t end if people have wait 7 more hours to buy useless junk that will be outdated in a year anyway.”