One Plan to Protect Workers’ Thanksgiving Dinners

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Target employee Melba Breidenstein (left) speaks with customers during Black Friday shopping on Thursday, November 22, 2012. (Richard W. Rodriguez/AP Images for Target)

Black Friday comes a little earlier every year. This year, it’ll come on Thursday. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Old Navy, Toys R Us and Staples — to name a few — will all open, offering special deals, on Thanksgiving day.

That means the low-wage workers who staff these stores will be asked — or required — to scramble through their Thanksgiving meals with family to show up at work. Some employers are offering an incentive to do so, such as time and a half, discounts or a catered Thanksgiving dinner at work. But labor advocates say that’s not enough. And some lawmakers agree.

The Huffington Post has the story of Mike Foley, an Ohio state representative from Cleveland who plans to introduce a bill designed to require stores open on Thanksgiving to pay workers triple time and protect them from retaliation if they choose not to work on the holiday.

If retailers were forced to pay their workers more for staffing Thanksgiving, it might make them reconsider opening on that day, according to John Talbott, associate director at Indiana University’s Center for Education and Research in Retailing.

“It would matter in a huge way,” Talbott said. “Usually payroll costs are the number one or number two line-item for retailers, so it would probably act as a deterrent and certainly mean that on that day they would have to consider a larger level of revenue in order to be successful.”

Talbott also noted that some employees may end up wanting to work the holiday if they’re offered such a huge incentive.

Foley said he didn’t use some kind of “fancy formula” to come up with the triple-time figure, but he thinks it’s enough to perhaps make retailers think twice about opening, and force them to properly compensate employees for working a holiday in what can be a hellish situation.

“These guys are going way overboard,” Foley said. “I think there’s a sense of ‘can’t we get any break, any break at all?’ They’re bringing in commercialism and hollow capitalism into this day that we’re supposed to be retreating from all of that.”

Read the full story at The Huffington Post »

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