Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thankful For A Day Off

At this time of year, when we hear words like "smothered," "drizzled," or "stacked," we're usually thinking of gravy, sauces, and piles of ham or turkey. This year, for many Americans, those adjectives may also apply in several other ways.

For millions of Americans on the East Coast, including near our office in Washington, DC, "drizzled" and "stacked" may refer to the weather and the traffic patterns, including a nasty early winter storm that will make holiday travel a mess. For some of our Republican friends, no matter how much better the HealthCare.gov website is getting, and how much enrollment is increasing, they'll still be dreaming of smothering the program to death in its sleep.

For millions of other Americans - including some of our own family members who either work in retail stores or service retail & restaurant establishments, the words "smothered" and "stacked" refer to how they feel economically, and how they think of the bills they have back home. You can even add "chained" to that list, as so many Americans working low-level hourly jobs worry - now more than ever - that they could lose their jobs at any time.

According to a recent Washington Post-Miller Center poll, more than 60% of working Americans worry about losing their jobs right now, with nearly one-third saying they worry about it "a lot" these days.

That explains, in part, why so many Americans this Thanksgiving will be grudgingly putting on their work clothes and trudging off to work, while their families, friends and neighbors sit down next to empty chairs at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

In case you've missed it, a growing number of retailers this year have decided to cancel the Thanksgiving holidays of their workers, pushing the traditional Black Friday sales into a day that is supposed to be a national holiday for all Americans, not just the comfortable folks who can afford a day off.

Thankfully, not every corporate retail store or restaurant has decided to follow the Ebenezer Scrooge business model.

Stores including Costco, Nordstroms, R.E.I., and Apple have decided that  - wherever possible - they are closing their stores for the Thanksgiving holiday and giving their workers a chance to count their blessings.

Those retailers that are forcing their workers to come in on the holiday are also firing up worker's rights groups and unions. As Matthew Fleischer noted in the L.A. Times this month, "the slow creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving is probably the single most effective public relations gift the labor movement could ask for in the fight for a living wage across America."

For those businesses that do decide to remain open, as Brad Tuttle noted in Time last week, the few shekels the corporations might be able to squeeze out of shoppers may not be worth opening on Thanksgiving next year. Indeed, technology retailer Radio Shack found that out the hard way in 2012, and decided it wasn't worth opening their doors on Thanksgiving this year.

We're pointing this out today not to shame those businesses into closing on Thanksgiving. They've already made their plans for this week long ago.

We'd merely ask that you, our readers, acknowledge that no matter what the job is, if someone is working on Thanksgiving, chances are pretty good they'd rather be at home with their families and friends.

Instead of going out to shop on Thursday, maybe you should stay at home, so that next year, another hard-working American might also be able to give thanks that they also don't have to the work the Thanksgiving holiday.