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One Lawmaker’s Plan To Fight Back Against Stores Ruining Workers’ Thanksgivings

By Bryce Covert on November 20, 2013 at 11:13 am

"One Lawmaker’s Plan To Fight Back Against Stores Ruining Workers’ Thanksgivings"

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This year, a wave of big box stores have decided that they will open on Thanksgiving Day for the holiday rush, rather than waiting for Black Friday. That means millions of workers will have to be at work instead of with their families. But an Ohio state lawmaker has a plan to push back on the war against Thanksgiving.

Ohio state Rep. Mike Foley (D) plans to introduce a bill in the next few weeks that would require any stores that open on Thanksgiving to pay employees triple time, or three times their normal wages, while also protecting those who want to take the day off from retaliation, according to the Huffington Post. Most stores pay time and a half for working on a holiday and some are also offering discounts and Thanksgiving dinners at work this year. While the stores say workers are excited to volunteer to work those days, there are reports of some being denied their requests to take the time off.

Foley said he thinks the requirement to pay triple time might make retailers rethink opening that day or, if they do, actually reward those who show up adequately. “I don’t know that I can go in and say you can’t work on Thanksgiving, but the people who have to put up with all the chaos and the frenzy should be paid more,” he told the Huffington Post’s Jillian Berman. One expert agreed, pointing out that payroll costs are among the biggest expenses for most retailers, so having to pay more could have an impact on their decisions. While Foley said he’s had interest from other lawmakers about co-sponsoring the bill, it will likely go no where in a state House with a Republican majority.

Some stores have already taken it upon themselves to stay closed that day and preserve the holiday for their workers: Nordstrom, Burlington Coat Factory, Radio Shack, Apple, American Girl, Patagonia, PC Richard & Son, Ross Stores, REI, and TJX Companies, the owner of TJ Maxx and Marshall’s, will all stay closed. Radio Shack told ThinkProgress it was staying closed “In honor of Thanksgiving and the time-honored tradition of gathering with family and friends” and because it had opened on that day in previous years and found that neither its customers nor employees thought it was worth it. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly shot down some stores’ decisions to open that day because he felt it’s important for workers to spend it with family and friends.

But at least 13 big brands have said they will open, including stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and Toys R Us. Kmart is the most aggressive, planning to open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and stay open through Black Friday. Even if workers are volunteering to come in that day, it may be because retail has become notorious for denying their low-paid employees enough hours to get by and the workers need the extra money.

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