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Hundreds of Kmart workers fight for time off on Thanksgiving

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NEW YORK — Somebody has to work on Thanksgiving, and Kmart says it does its best to staff stores with volunteers that day. But hundreds of workers say that’s not good enough.

More than 600 employees have signed a petition asking that the store allow employees to at least put in a request to have the holiday off.

It’s the latest group of retail workers to push back against the Black Friday creep. At least 10 companies will open their stores by 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night this year, including Kmart, which will open at 6 a.m. and stay open for 42 hours straight.

The petition was organized by Jillian Fisher, 25, whose mom Donna was scheduled to work two, five-hour shifts last year on Thanksgiving. She ended up calling out of the second shift so she could be home for dinner. Donna lost her holiday bonus pay, but kept her job.

Her daughter Jillian launched the petition to allow Kmart employees to request holidays off last week.

Perhaps as a result, Donna was granted the morning shift she preferred this year, so she’ll be home in time for dinner.

“They accommodated my mom this year, but now someone else has to choose between working and spending time with their family,” her daughter said.

Jillian surveyed some of the people who signed the petition with the help of organizers at Coworker.org. Only three out of 56 self-identified Kmart workers said they had the option to request Thanksgiving off.

Kekoa Wailehua, a Kmart worker in Hawaii, told CNNMoney that a sign posted at his store says workers may not request time off on certain “blackout” dates, such as Thanksgiving and Black Friday. He’s working both days this year even though he’s usually off on Fridays.

In response to the petition, Kmart said it has been open on Thanksgiving Day for 23 years, and that the staff earn time-and-a-half for working on the holiday.

A Kmart spokeswoman said that “stores do their very best to staff with seasonal associates and those who volunteer to work holidays,” but would not comment any further.

6 comments

  • Ron Melancon

    It is about time we the retail workers demand that we get time off. To all the heartless people who are going to shop on Thanksgiving for your children may your children one day work Retail and work on Thanksgiving

  • Mo Fiscal conservatism

    I would recommend if you want off on Holidays, don’t work in crappy retail jobs… I worked in food & beverage for 6 years. Most of those I worked most Holidays. I didn’t cry or protest about it because that’s the job and the day we are living in. Those jobs are for young people trying to make it, not for people trying to raise a family. Stop crying and get a better job!!

    • athynz

      I agree with you to an extent but at the same time there are people who are working those jobs to support families – people who were working in other fields where there has been a major shift in the workforce. Two days ago an AA for a senior VP, Yesterday that senior VP gets downsized, and today there is no need for that AA and no other place to go so hello crappy retail job – and hello to very few job openings with more than a few people with the same qualifications. Add that to the fact that until recently these places were not even open on Thanksgiving and quite frankly I can see where they are coming from.

      • Milly

        You are so right. People from all walks of life work at different jobs. I work in retail and I know of many who had other jobs, great jobs even, but have fallen on hard times and just need any income to stay afloat, even if it is just barely. Just because you drew the short end of the stick doesn’t mean you should be taken advantage of your employer. It wasn’t until 2001 that Black Friday really started, this is a new thing, and Black Friday starting on THURSDAY is even newer. They are doing this simply for money. And you go on any of these companies websites and you will see a section all about how they care about their employees’ health and wellness. Isn’t that funny?

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