Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Greetings From the Star-Tribune: Shut Up and Be Grateful You Have a Low-Paid, Crummy Job With No Benefits

Editorial: Take this job and ... be glad you have it | StarTribune.com:

'via Blog this'

From the Star-Tribune editorial:

When times were better, retail giants forcing employees to work on treasured family holidays could easily be painted as corporate greed run amok. But today it’s hardly fair to paint merchants as retail Scrooges.
What a cheery, humane holiday sentiment. Times are hard, so as long as you have a paycheck at all, you shouldn't complain about being used and abused.

This editorial was a response to Anthony Hardwick, the Target employee who started a petition in protest against Target's decision to open at midnight on Thanksgiving, a stunt to grab a bigger share of the Black Friday shopping blitz. As indicated above, it's the Star-Tribune's position that in these hard economic times, corporate greed is not to be criticized and any complaints about abusive working conditions are off the table. We should be grateful for whatever crumbs our corporate masters choose to drop, no matter the impact on our lives and our families.

Just to be clear: The store opening at midnight means that the workers are there by 11pm to get themselves and the store ready for opening. Being ready to get to work at 11pm means sleeping a good part of the afternoon--which means, at best, missing a good part of Thanksgiving Day with the family. If, on this biggest travel holiday of the year, when Americans  in the tens of thousands travel long distances to be with their extended families, it can all too easily mean cancelling a trip with non-refundable plane tickets at the last minute.

When people have been promised the Thanksgiving Friday off, reneging on that three weeks out is simply abusive.

These open-at-midnight Black Friday stunts won't, as the Star-Tribune claims, generate any additional sales and stimulus for the economy; it will just shift when those sales happen, and to some degree who gets the benefit of those sales. The big box stores like Target and Walmart will take sales from smaller, locally-owned stores, whose profits would stay within the local economy and generate more real economic stimulus locally.

And at what point would the Star-Tribune give its gracious permission for workers to protest unfair and abusive conditions again? When we are at 5% unemployment? 3% unemployment? In the meantime, should we be bracing ourselves to give up the eight-hour day, the forty-hour week, the weekend? What about unsafe conditions--are those out of bounds for complaint too, until the economy improves?

Target, Walmart, and any other company are not employing people out of the goodness of their hearts, even in these hard economic times. The people they  employ are people they believe they need for their own economic benefit, and they should be prepared to pay fairly and to provide decent working conditions and hours--even in the midst of the Great Recession.