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Closed for Thanksgiving and Labor Relations

Updated on November 19, 2015
Jeramey Conrad profile image

Jeramey is a jack-of-all-trades and master of... a bunch. Two Master's degrees, but I never refer to them for my expertise, I *use* them

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Black Friday Brinkmanship

A growing number of national retailers are finally making a point of the fact that they aren't going along with the disturbing hyper-capitalist trend of subjecting their employees to being open on Thanksgiving Day.

In one of the most despicable trends in the holiday shopping season, several standalone destination stores and other mall mainstays have been no longer engaged in early morning Black Friday Brinkmanship, but have settled in for Thanksgiving proper one-upmanship. And the employees denied time with their families on a holiday specifically known for just that are the ones who suffer the most.

Macy’s have announced it would open for their Black Friday sales at 6 pm on Thanksgiving proper -- two hours earlier than last year’s 8 pm opening. Kohl’s and Sears are among others retailers matching Macy’s with open doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. While J. C. Penney (who in 2013 was closed on Thanksgiving entirely) will be opening at 5 pm. Yes, this is beyond brinkmanship.

Other major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, and Toys R Us, have for years made a history of opening for Black "Friday" earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving. Some locations will be be open early afternoon on Thursday, while Kmart is opening at 6am on Thanksgiving and its Black Friday sale will go on for a soul-crushing 42 hours. Of course, for that matter many Walmarts are open 24/7 everyday except Christmas.

At the same time, however, there are some notable national retailers that are refusing to open on Thanksgiving.

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An ever increasing percentage of Americans actually respond negatively to Thanksgiving Day hours. In fact, 60% of Americans in a recent survey responded that they either “hate” or “dislike” the fact that stores are open on Thanksgiving, while only a combined 12% claim they “like” or “love” the practice.

Some companies, which allow employees time with their families, use this fact to promote that they are closed, and use this as ammunition in advertisements against companies that don't. But that doesn't mean they will stay in one camp or another. Just last year TJX (T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and others) made headlines for calling themselves an "Associate-friendly Company" that puts Thanksgiving high on their priorities. But that is not the case this year.

What relation does being closed on Thanksgiving or Black Friday have with these national chains' relationship with labor?

A note on the Ticker Symbols

I have included this information because frequently people see a pattern of company behavior that upsets them, but then they do little about it, except maybe to decide to not shop there or, in many cases, just continue to not shop there.

Well there's more. If you have a mutual fund or 401(k) or pension or any other program where you didn't choose your stocks, please look into your published listings. You may get them in the mail or online quarterly or they might be available if you ask. If you object to any company's actions it is a simple imperative to divest in that firm's profiteering from human beings while receiving the dividends. Sell the stock, or petition the representative to drop the company for your pension or 401(k)'s portfolio. It can happen and it can help.

Barnes and Noble

This Fortune 500 bookseller (NYSE: BKS, as in "books") based in New York is closed on many holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. But being a major retailer co-located at a lot of malls (which have their own rules), many locations will be open on Black Friday.


Barnes and Noble is not organized, but there have been large scale efforts in the past.

Bed Bath and Beyond

Union, New Jersey-based (NASDAQ: BBBY) is open on most holidays, being closed just for Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. They are open on Black Friday.

Individual locations and distribution centers have attempted to organize in the past with the United Food and Commercial Workers union losing a close election in a New Jersey warehouse.

BJ’s

This Jersey City-based wholesale club will be closed on Thanksgiving (as well as Christmas Day) and open early on Thanksgiving, but at least their employees are not forced to work Thanksgiving.

A while ago BJ's was accused of firing two employees on trumped up charges when they known union (UFCW) supporters. There have not been any other large movements since, but that does not mean the employees are any less disgruntled.

Burlington Coat Factory

This Burlington, New Jersey (really, would it be anywhere else?)-based retailer (NYSE: BURL) is closed Thanksgiving Day (as well as Easter Sunday and Christmas Day) and open on Black Friday.

Here's a fun fact: Burlington seems to keep it quiet whether there is any worker unrest or organizing drive at their stores. If you know of any please, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, Donna Norton, Director Talent Acquisition at Burlington Stores, Inc. claims in her LinkedIn profile at another job in the late 1990s that shes "[d]eveloped and implemented action plan that resulted in the avoidance of a union organizing drive in Smyra," so it's probably safe to assume that's part of her job at Burlington today too.

Costco

Issaquah, Washington-based wholesale club (NASDAQ: COST) is a big labor favorite. In addition to being closed Thanksgiving Day, all Costco locations are also closed on: New Year's Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4th), Labor Day, and Christmas Day. That's a lot of time with their families Costco employees can spend. Also, no disrespectful "sales" that have come to be synonymous with holidays like Memorial Day. Costco is going to be open on Black Friday, but only one hour earlier than their usual November hours, which at 9am makes them the latest opening store on this list. Costco also closes early on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

Costco is organized by the Teamsters (with a working relationship with UFCW) and have over 15,000 union members. It is well noted that Costco starting wage is $11.50 an hour, and the average wage (not including time and a half overtime) is almost twice that, at $21/hour. The CEO and President, Craig Jelinek, has publicly and frequently espoused raising the federal minimum wage to at least $10.10, well before the recent blitzkreig of advances on the topic and the national #FightFor15 push.

Crate & Barrel

The Northbrook, Illinois-based retailer is wholly own by German mail order conglomerate Otto GmbH. They are closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday, but all locations will be open Black Friday.

While not organized, Crate & Barrel seems committed to overseas fair treatment and human rights.

Dillard's

Dillard's, Inc. (NYSE: DDS) is a Little Rock-based mid-range department store chain in the United States, with 330 stores in 28 states.

Dillard's is closed on Thanksgiving, but opens two hours early for Black Friday at 8am.

Dillard's Social Accountability Policy (for Vendor Standards, Supplier Standards, and Factory Standards) calls for a bare minimum of fair labor practices, such as no child labor or bonded labor. Oh cute! Dillard's doesn't use prison labor in its factories? But how are the employees treated in the stores? Mum's the word on whether they apply the International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work to their own stores.

DSW Shoes

DSW Inc. (NYSE: DSW), formerly known as the Designer Shoe Warehouse, (but what does the 'S' stand for now???) is a footwear retailer, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

They will be closed on Thanksgiving, and have conflicting reports on whether they will open at 6am or 7am on Black Friday.

There seems to have been no efforts at unionizing DSW, or, if there were, they are kept well under wraps.

GameStop

GameStop Corporation, (NYSE: GME), is an American video game, consumer electronics, and wireless services retailer. The Grapevine, Texas-based GameStop has no union members among its many full- and part-time employees.

They will remain closed on Thanksgiving, but are making their employees come in extra early at 5am on Black Friday.



Creative Commons image by Matt Baume
Creative Commons image by Matt Baume
American Life League (Creative Commons)
American Life League (Creative Commons)
Flickr user American Life League (Creative Commons)
Flickr user American Life League (Creative Commons)

Hobby Lobby

Hobby Lobby is an Oklahoma City-based chain of retail arts and crafts stores, formerly called Hobby Lobby Creative Centers.

Hobby Lobby will be open on Black Friday (which it insists on calling "The Friday after Thanksgiving") an extra hour earlier and later, and same with the next Saturday. They are, of course, closed on Sunday. Because of Jesus.

In terms of Labor Relations, Hobby Lobby occupies a weird space, similar to Whole Foods. They are vigorously anti-union, but also pay and treat their employees well. While this is the end goal of the labor movement and in a perfect world unions wouldn't exist as there would be no need (but also, in that perfect world there'd be no need for police or fire departments either, so until then...).


Home Depot

The Home Depot (NYSE: HD) is a big box American retailer of home improvement and construction products and services based in Atlanta Georgia.

In 2008 co-founder and former CEO Bernard Marcus called the Employee Free Choice Act "the demise of a civilization", while on a conference with business leaders conspiracing to destroy a bill that obviate barriers from workers unionizing. Included were Bank of America and AIG, which, if you'll recall in October 2008 was right on the heels of those two behemoths getting billions of taxpayer's money in bailouts, but were advocating relentlessly that retail workers should not be paid a couple bucks more.

They will be closed Thanksgiving. But open at 5am on Black Friday, talk about "the demise of civilization", right Bernie?

Home Goods

HomeGoods, is owned by TJX Companies (NYSE: TJX) and has 487 stores. They are non-union and closed on Thanksgiving but open early on Black Friday. More under "T.J. Maxx."

Jo Ann Fabrics

Jo-Ann Stores, Inc. is a specialty retailer of crafts and fabrics based in Hudson, Ohio.

The company will close all its 750 locations on Thanksgiving and be open at 6am on Black Friday! So much "respect for time with employees' families"!

There is no labor organizing drive to speak of.

Lowe’s

Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE: LOW) is an American company based in Mooresville, North Carolina that operates a retail home improvement and appliance chain of stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Lowe's "training" video and its anti-union message has been lampooned, as have many of these companies' before them.

They will be closed Thanksgiving, but open at 6am on Black Friday. Never stop improving on impinging on your employees' family time!

Marshall’s

Marshalls, Inc., is owned by TJX Companies (NYSE: TJX) and has 750 stores. They are non-union and closed on Thanksgiving but open early on Black Friday. More under "T.J. Maxx."

Neiman Marcus

The Neiman Marcus Group, is an American luxury specialty department store headquartered in Dallas, Texas that also owns and operates Bergdorf Goodman.

They recently attempted to "micro-unionize" several of the sub-departments of the retail giant, but the NLRB rejected this attempt to make fractured bargaining units out of its wholly discrete sales and stock teams.

Nordstrom

Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE: JWN) is an American upscale fashion retailer, founded by John W. Nordstrom in 1901 in Seattle.

In 1991 Nordstrom lost sixty years of representation by UFCW. Bizarrely, the workers voted to decertify as UFCW was loudly and publicly demanding Nordstrom pay them for forcing them to work outside of their scheduled (and paid) hours.

However, Nordstrom earns serious points for their stance on Thanksgiving. They not only are opening normal Friday hours (after being closed Turkey Day), but they are refusing to even acknowledge that there exists such a thing as Christmas until that day. Of course, where and when and how do these decorations suddenly appear is not stated publicly, so the employees are at least behind-the-scenes getting the Holiday shaft.

Patagonia

Patagonia, Inc. is an American high-end outdoor clothing company based in Ventura, California.

Like Dillard's, Patagonia seems to be concerned only with labor practices in their supply chain, caring little for their retail employees' livelihoods.

Patagonia acheived some Internet fame when, in 2013, it launched its "Don't buy this jacket" campaign, and urged consumers to not participate in Black Friday Mania, but repair the items they already own.

P.C. Richard & Son

P.C. Richard & Son, also known as simply P.C. Richard, is the largest privately-owned chain of electronics and appliances stores in the United States, based in Farmingdale, NY and still run by the family, with CEO Gary Richard.

Since 1909 (their first year in operation in Brooklyn, New York), according to a Facebook post P.C. Richard and Son have been closed on Thanksgiving. Further, it is their opinion that retailers who choose to open on Thanksgiving Day show no respect to their employees and families, and are in total disrespect of family values in the United States of America. Well said!

Unfortunately, like most consumer electronics stores, they are not unionized.

Pier One

Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR) is a Fort Worth, Texas–based retailer specializing in "imported" home furnishings and decor, particularly furniture, table-top items, decorative accessories, and seasonal decor.

They are closed on Thanksgiving, but open early on Black Friday.

While the retail and warehouse employees are not covered by UFCW or Teamsters, that has not stopped Pier 1 Imports from running into labor trouble, such as the Carpenters finding them using scabs in construction of a store in Cherry Hill.

Publix

Publix Super Markets, Inc., commonly known as Publix, is an employee-owned supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida.

While they are employee-owned, they are not employee friendly. Yes, they love pointing out their "stock boy to manager" success stories, but that does not make management immune from charges of bullying, intimidation, and harassment to employees (owners!) looking to organize.

Publix wants you to order a cooked Thanksgiving dinner from them ahead of time instead of coming to the store that day to pick it up or, y'know, cooking one yourself.

Radio Shack

Radio Shack is an American chain of wireless and electronics stores owned by the Standard General affiliate General Wireless. Founded in 1921, it operated stores in the United States and Mexico.

Radio Shack is in so much trouble, it fails in both ways on this list.

For the troubled retailer, organizing is the least of its employees' worries, as not only are all of their jobs in jeopardy, but even then they may miss out on contracted severance pay.

Perhaps the firm on this list only because of a last minute announcement of a change, but Radio Shack will be open Thanksgiving from 8am to 1pm. Walking the line between respecting the sanctity of a holiday and cashing in on capitalist greed. Commit to one or the other, Radio Shack!


REI

Recreational Equipment, Inc., is a privately held American retail corporation organized as a consumers' cooperative, selling outdoor recreation gear, sporting goods, and clothing, headquartered in Kent, Washington.

And they just might be the biggest winner on this list.

REI rewards its employees well, but doesn't publish breakdowns on whether this applies to all retail associates or if part-timers get anything. They also, like Patagonia and Dillard's, seem to be very concerned with labor standards in their international supply chain, if not their stores.

REI is keeping all their stores closed on Black Friday. The company website encourages consumers to "go outside", how novel!

Sam’s Club

Sam's West, Inc. is an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart, founded in 1983 and named after Walmart founder Sam Walton.

The antagonism between this Bentonville, Arkansas-based monopsony and organized labor (and basic human decency) is well documented.

Unlike Wal-Mart (where seasonal employees or "temps" are sometimes killed by shoppers in poorly managed off-hours openings) Sam's Club will be closed all day Black Friday, directing their customers to their website for some 12:01am deals.

"Family Time" at a Walmart

Flickr Creative Commons
Flickr Creative Commons

Staples

Staples Inc., (NASDAQ: SPLS) is a large Framinham, Massachusetts-based office supply chain store, with over 2,000 stores worldwide in 26 countries.

Staples won't be union anytime soon. Especially not after the recent case where the Postal Workers protested against USPS using Staples' low-wage retail staff as surrogate postal employees.

Staples is also apparently "taking a stand" against being open on Thanksgiving (whatever that means. For the record, I'm taking a stand against murder, rape, abusing children, and kicking puppies in the face), but will have its traditional "door busters" at 6am on Black Friday. For all the employees who have to wake up early to contend with these huge demanding crowds, I don't think that was easy.

TJ Maxx

T.J.Maxx, is an American department store chain with more than 1,000 stores, and the namesake for The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX) based in Framingham, Massachusetts. With its other subsidaries, Marshalls and HomeGoods and others, TJX claims to be the largest international apparel and home fashions off-price department store chain in the United States.

All their stores will be closed for Thanksgiving, but open early for Black Friday sales.

Meanwhile, their employees are clamoring for fair wages and respect in the workplace.

Will a company's presence on the above list deter you from shopping there?

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List of shame

And finally, the list of shame. These 20 retailers are forcing employees to work over Thanksgiving:

  1. Bass Pro Shops
  2. Best Buy
  3. Big Lots
  4. Dick’s Sporting Goods
  5. Dollar General
  6. Family Dollar
  7. JCPenney
  8. Kmart
  9. Kohl’s
  10. Macy’s
  11. Michael’s
  12. Office Depot
  13. Office Max
  14. Old Navy
  15. Sears
  16. Shoe Carnival
  17. Target
  18. Toys R Us
  19. Victoria’s Secret
  20. Walmart

If possible, if it comes up to a toss-up between a company on this list, please avoid them. It might be a small dent, but at least it's a dent in their bottom line.

© 2015 Jeramey Conrad

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  • Farawaytree profile image

    Michelle Zunter 21 months ago from California

    Yes, once you opened the can of worms it exploded!

  • Jeramey Conrad profile image
    Author

    Jeramey Conrad 21 months ago from Northeastern United States

    Thanks, 'Tree! Yeah, it seemed like it would be easy once I had the idea, but yes it was far more research than I thought. Meant to have it published over a week ago.

  • Farawaytree profile image

    Michelle Zunter 21 months ago from California

    Great hub Jeramey! Very well researched indeed :)