Written by Matt Murray for the NH Labor NewsFirst let me start by saying Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your family. I hope you enjoy the holiday and the time you get to spend together.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the men and women who do not get Thanksgiving or most holidays off. These dedicated men and women work every hour or every day. Many of these people work in 'safety-related' fields. They are your local Police and Fire departments. They are there whenever you call. They are the doctors, nurses, and staff at your local hospitals. They are there when you twist your ankle playing football after Thanksgiving dinner.
There are many others, like pilots and other airline industry workers. Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel time of the year. Millions of people fly home to be with families, and members of my union – the National Air Traffic Controllers Association – help to make sure you get there safely.
These union members in safety-related jobs are not the only people who have to give up their holidays to fulfill their duties. For example, the IBEW members at PSNH who are working or on-call. Or the State Employees (SEA/SEIU1984) who are working the toll booths throughout New Hampshire. I could go on, but I think you get my point.
Millions of people have to work on holidays; unfortunately, that number is going up every year. This year, that number is going up dramatically. This is largely in part to the stealing of the Thanksgiving holiday by the retail industry.
As long as I can remember, the day after Thanksgiving was always a special day for shoppers. People would read the newspaper to see all the specials. They would get up at un-godly hours and stand in lines to be the first in line for that 'doorbuster' deal. Over the last few years that has all changed, and I think it is appalling.
This year, all the major retailers are opening earlier than ever to beat out their competitors. Best Buy and the Simon Malls are opening at midnight on Friday morning. The new Merrimack Premium Outlets are opening at 10pm on Thanksgiving Day. Target, Sears, and Toy R Us will be opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day.
This is why I am saying that the retail market is stealing Thanksgiving.
The worst of all is Walmart.
Walmart alone employs 1.4 million people in the U.S. Around the country, most Walmarts will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving. But other Walmarts will be open all day.
For instance, the Bedford Walmart is going to be open at 7am, just like any other Thursday. Except Thanksgiving is not a normal day. This is a special day. This is a day to spend with friends and family enjoying good food and fellowship. This is not a day to be forced into work at a retail store so the corporation can make extra money on 'Black Thursday'.
Mary Pat Tifft a Walmart associate and organizer for OUR Walmart stated
"This Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, many Walmart workers have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing for doors to open at 8pm on Thanksgiving night.How many of these people are getting 'Holiday Pay' or extra pay for giving up their holiday to work? I would guess very few, if any, will – considering that Walmart does not even give the majority of their employees health benefits.
My son is coming home from Afghanistan for the holiday, and I would be devastated if I had been scheduled to work. I see the disappointment in the eyes of my co-workers, especially those with young kids, that aren’t going to be able to share the holiday with their families."
How many of these minimum wage workers would volunteer to work Thanksgiving, if they weren’t required to work? What is next, opening at 9am on Christmas Day to start the after-Christmas sales? If this Thanksgiving Day trend continues, what will stop the largest single employer in the U.S. from stealing Christmas, too?
I will do my part to stop this trend, by not shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I will also be boycotting Walmart this Friday as well, in honor of the OUR Walmart workers who are planning a walkout strike on Black Friday.
Please pledge to 'Stand With Walmart Strikers' and make this Thanksgiving one that Walmart, and all the other retailers, will never forget.
Information about OUR WALMART
OUR Walmart, the associate-led organization that aims to ensure every Walmart employee is treated with respect, raise employee working standards, and improve customer service at Walmart stores nationwide.