Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy Black Friday
Target Petition Ignites Pushback

This year Target announced plans to open its stores for Black Friday at 12:00 AM. In response, a (soon to be "ex"?) Target worker named Anthony Hardwick posted a petition at protesting the early opening because it robs the workers of their ability to spend Thanksgiving evening with their families. Other retailers have jumped on the early opening bandwagon. (In fact, I'm not sure that Target was ever unique in this strategy. It's just new for them.) I signed the petition in solidarity for the workers; but in hindsight, I have my doubts that working midnight is worse than working 5:00 AM. First of all, if you work midnight, you never have to go to sleep Thanksgiving evening. If you are drowsy on Friday morning, that's the company's problem. Secondly, Target pays holiday pay for working Thanksgiving (as do most retailers. Do they pay holiday pay on Friday? I suspect most don't.

Target has already begun its corporate campaign against Mr. Hardwick's petition, and it has taken the form of a personal slam on Mr. Hardwick. Hey, if you don't like the message, I guess you should attack the messenger. Target released a press release not mentioning Mr. Hardwick by name, but clearly referring to him stating that he was not scheduled to work Thanksgiving or Black Friday because he works full-time for another retailer and he needed Black Friday off. At first blush, this makes Mr. Hardwick look bad, but actually, his point remains as valid as ever regarding the vast majority of Target workers.

Whether midnight is better or worse than 5:00 AM is not really the big issue. The big issue is that the worker's family life has never been a high priority among American retailers, and it seems to be getting worse. Very few retailers are unionized. (Coincidence?) It should come as a surprise to nobody that the "occupy" movement has started a grass-roots "occupy black friday" movement. I have my doubts whether the protesters will have enough critical mass to slow down the compulsive shoppers driven by selective discounts into a feeding frenzy, but we'll see. Personally, I've been boycotting Black Friday for years. I could say it was because of social responsibility; but really,it's because I don't like to get up early and from experience I know that those extra-special deals are rarely available once you get to the stores. My suggestion: sleep in. Cyber Monday? Now that rocks.

A very short marginally related video. This will bring back memories.

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