posted by Donna Gratehouse
at 20 November, 6:30 PM 0
Things I tend to dislike include shopping, crowds, long lines, and the chance (however slight) of being trampled to death, so I’ve never done the Black Friday thing. It is a highly popular annual ritual, though. Over the years the enthusiasm of Black Friday shoppers has gotten to the point where some line up in the wee early hours of the morning, or even the night before, to await the opening of the store. This has led to a situation known as “Black Friday creep”, in which the big retailers are opening stores earlier and earlier to accommodate eager throngs of shoppers. They started opening at midnight a few years ago and now it’s typical for big stores to open on Thanksgiving night to welcome shoppers after Thanksgiving dinner. For the workers required to man the store, this means they probably get no holiday since they have to arrive several hours before the opening to get the store ready. A Target employee started a petition to protest having to work Thanksgiving evening and this seems to have sparked other protests, including a planned walkout by Walmart store and warehouse employees on Friday. UFCW has launched an effort, OUR Walmart, to support workers and demand better pay and conditions.
I like how they highlight the cost to taxpayers of subsidizing Walmart’s low, low wages and practically nonexistent benefits for non-management employees. It’s important to connect low wages with public assistance in people’s minds right now, on the heels of an election where the claim that half the country are dependent moochers became a prominent campaign issue. And the workers who do walk out need our support. They are taking a big risk upon themselves because management will undoubtedly retaliate against them. I’m not a fan of Walmart, largely because of their labor policies, and have not entered one in several years. But I realize that I’m in the fortunate position of having many alternatives for shopping, which others don’t. So I’m not mad at you if you shop there, I’m just asking you to consider forgoing Walmart (and other big box stores) on Black Friday. And I like the idea of patronizing local businesses so much that I may just venture out to do some shopping in them this Friday, at a reasonable hour.
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