For many people, Thanksgiving holiday weekend comes to an end on Monday. For some people, Thanksgiving holiday never began as many major stores opted to open on Thanksgiving as early as 6:00 PM for some. Barely before the Thanksgiving dinner was served or even digested, the pre- Black Friday store sales began in most states. Only three states, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have state Blue laws banning major retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving. Blue laws are the laws that used to ban Sunday shopping. Now there are people who must work on Thanksgiving such as hospitals, hotels, nursing homes, police, firefighters and other 24 hour services and businesses. But for those who work in retail sales, working on Thanksgiving is hardly essential, except to the owners who want to boost sales and line their wealthy pockets.
There is nothing urgent in retail stores or sales that should require stores to open on Thanksgiving early evening. And ironically, stores that were open early included Wal-Mart, presumably the largest retail employer of lowest wage paid employees, where there were protests against the store’s stance on employees’ wages. According to sources, 71% of Wal-Mart employees had to work with many working for less than $8.00 an hour. Wal-Mart in one Ohio location held a food drive in the store asking for food donations for its own employees. A better approach would be to pay their workers higher wages so they could afford to buy enough food. A large number of Wal-Mart employees qualify for food stamps due to low wages. Many of those working on Thanksgiving in retail sales are known as the working poor.
The wealth gap disparity is seen in the faces of many retail customers standing in long lines and storming retail stores like Wal-Mart and fighting over perceived lower prices for towels, toys and TV’s while workers forego the Thanksgiving holiday to work hard just to keep food on their table and a job. Meanwhile wealthy retail owners enjoy the profits and benefits of the two groups while staying at home enjoying thanksgiving.
There are two laws that are needed to assist in the end to Thanksgiving Day retail greed. First, more states should consider revising and re-instating Blue laws to at least prohibit major retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving day and allow retail workers to enjoy the holiday. And for those workers making low minimum wages, Congress and states must pass a higher minimum wage law. For an employee making less than $8.00 an hour ($7.25 federal minimum wage) and working 40 hours, hardly enables a family or individual to exist on less than $320.00 a week before taxes. And it will take legislation to change this new trend of working Thanksgiving and giving bare minimum to those employees who work. Neither one is hardly a principle of giving and being thankful.
For those who were able to enjoy Thanksgiving without working, spent time with family and friends and had plenty of food to eat, consider yourselves blessed and give thanks. Consider supporting the work of those protesting Wal-Mart low wages. And in giving, support the work of legislation that will increase the minimum wage for others who had to work and are not as fortunate. The Senate is expected in December to take up a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.