Friday, November 29, 2013
Holiday shopping hours on Thanksgiving Day came at the expense of employees who missed out on time with their families.
More and more stores opened their doors for Black Friday shopping not on Friday, but on Thanksgiving Day. Big retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Toys R Us let shoppers get a jump on their holiday lists Thursday. But these holiday hours came at the expense of employees, who missed out on time with their families.
Kmart's decision to open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and stay open for 41 straight hours led to outrage among some consumers, who posted on social media that people should boycott the store for keeping its employees away from their families.
Some San Diegans told KPBS in a Public Insight Network questionnaire that they refused to shop on Thanksgiving Day and that they will boycott stores that were open on Thanksgiving.
"That is the problem with this country, putting money before family," said Pamela Ricci, a San Diego accountant. "Stores are opening on a traditional family holiday to make money on the next traditional family holiday. Shame on every store that is open before 8 a.m. on Black Friday."
Ricci said she will boycott any store that opened its doors on Thanksgiving Day.
"I will gladly pay more for an item at a store that respected the holiday and allowed their employees to be home with their families," she said.
And Ricci is not alone. A HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 62 percent of Americans think businesses should be closed on Thanksgiving so workers can have the day off.
Even the pope weighed in to criticize consumer culture. In his first major written work since assuming the papacy, Pope Francis called capitalism "a new tyranny" and said world leaders should be doing more to fight poverty.
But for other locals, working on holidays is necessary.
Gabriela Dow runs her own communications consulting business and said she will work holidays during an emergency.
"If there is an issue, on any day of the year, like a media emergency—water pipe burst, or like in 2008 when my company's data center was flooded in the Cedar Rapids disaster—then I am on the job for as long as it takes to complete the work," she said.
Dow also points out that a recent study found that by 2020, more than 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancers, contractors or temporary workers. That means "issues like paid holiday or set schedules will no longer be an issue," she said.
Suzanne Taylor, a mental health counselor, also worked on Thanksgiving to treat her patients.
"I know that my clients need the services every day of the week, not just when it's convenient for us," she said. "They're people that need help with their medications, people that need us to check on them to make sure that they're stable. A lot of our clients don't have a lot of support, so it's important for us to be that for them."
Taylor has temporary employee status, so she isn't paid overtime for working holidays and would not have drawn a salary if she'd taken Thanksgiving off.
Still, Taylor says while she was willing to work, she doesn't think retail employees should be forced to come in on holidays. Unlike her patients, she says the holiday shopping could wait a day.