It’s no secret that to boost profits during a down economy, many retailers have put the squeeze on their employees to work longer and harder for less and less. That pressure only increases during the holiday season, when stores try to woo consumers with marathon sales and midnight openings. Workers are often forced to choose between being with their families or working long hours on holidays to keep their jobs.
Now, thousands of employees are standing up to the retail giant Target to protest the long hours they’re being required to work on Thanksigiving:
Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. (TGT) on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.
Target, Macy’s Inc. (M), Gap Inc. (GPS), Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.
Hardwick, 29…began the petition two weeks ago on the website Change.org after learning that he and his coworkers would be required to start at 11 p.m. Nov. 24 for a 10-hour shift. [...] “Everyone at work was resigned because the economy is bad and so our employer has us over a barrel.”
Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, is typically retailers’ most lucrative day of the year, and some stores have begun to extend their hours to Thanksgiving day itself to give themselves an edge. Hardwick says he fears losing his job for starting the protest and speaking to the media. Target has yet to respond to the petition. But as Hardwick pointed out, because of the tough job market companies know that their workers have little choice but to comply with their demands or be fired.
Target in particular has a bad track record when it comes to respecting workers’ rights. It has repeatedly tried to discourage employees from unionizing, and the National Labor Relations Board has opened a case alleging that Target illegally intimidated workers before a union vote.