Retailers Facing Backlash from Workers Over Holiday Hours

Nov 16, 2012 10:17 PM  By

Companies such as Wal-Mart, Target, Sears and Kohl’s have come under fire by employees who are demanding they “give Thanksgiving back to families” after new holiday hours are requiring employees to work on Thanksgiving.

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Although opening the stores earlier over the holidays is convenient for the shoppers and possibly more income to businesses, it’s a source of anger for retail employees.

Store employees and warehouse workers at Wal-Mart have organized protests, rallies and online petitions all leading up to the Black Friday holiday, according to a press release from the organization Making a Change at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart announced that it will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

According to the release, workers announced upcoming strikes and protests in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington DC, as well as workers walking off the job in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota.

In the press release, Charlene Fletcher, a Wal-Mart employee in California, said she and her husband have both worked at the retail store for several years. The couple, who have two young children according to the release, are both scheduled to work on Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s heartbreaking to miss the holiday with them, and it’s just one more way that Walmart is showing its disregard for our families,” Fletcher said in the release.

But it’s not just Wal-Mart who have decided to get a jump on the competition by opening its doors on Thursday instead of the standard Black Friday. According to CNN, Toys “R” Us will open at 8 p.m., Target will open at 9 p.m. although Macy’s is expected to open at midnight.

Dozens and dozens of petitions have sprouted up on the social activist website change.org asking members of the public to sympathize with employees who have to work over the holidays. A majority of the petitions say it is unfair for retailers to demand employees miss quality time with their families in order to stock shelves or deal with customers. Many are calling the new hours the “Black Friday Creep” meaning that every year it continues to begin earlier and earlier.

It apparently isn’t just the workers who feel that retailers should steer clear of opening their doors on Thanksgiving. According to a new Coupon Cabin survey, nearly one-third of U.S. adults believe that Black Friday sales start too early.

Regardless of employee dissatisfaction and public opinion, consumers will still head out to the stores on Thanksgiving and throughout Black Friday weekend in order to get a deal, something retailers know all too well.

Although many retailer are not commenting on the sacrifices it’s employees make by working during the holidays, Target told CNN that the company’s opening time was “carefully evaluated” and that all hourly employees who work on Thanksgiving will get time and a half their hourly pay rate and other pay premiums.

Erin Lynch is the associate editor at Multichannel Merchant. Erin can be reached by email at erin@multichannelmerchant.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LynchMCM or on LinkedIn.