THE BLOG
11/21/2014 03:21 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2015

Why Major Retailers Are Opening Their Doors on Thanksgiving and Why I Don't Like That

The Huffington Post

Nine national retail chains have announced their plans to open during the day on Thanksgiving Day. Whether their opening times will begin at 6 a.m. or later is irrelevant. The point is, they will be open and requiring employees to clock in and work on a national holiday set aside for people to give thanks with family and friends. It's wrong. Period. The names of these nine stores, in no particular order:

√ Macy's
√ Sears
√ Walmart
√ Staples
√ Toys R' Us
√ J.C. Penney
√ Kohl's
√ Target

I saved the biggest corporate offender for last because of how this retailer is "requiring" its employees to work. I'm also not happy with the apparent lie the company has spread, saying that everyone working that day has "volunteered" to do so. That retailer is

√ Kmart.

Wow. This company has, according to the most recent reports, still not released its work schedules for next week. This makes it darn near impossible for employees to make plans for Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday. In addition, Kmart has reportedly posted notices in every one of its stores, telling employees that it will not be giving anyone the day off between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day. If anyone fails to show up, they will be "automatically" fired. I wonder what will happen if any employees come down with flu (it is flu season) or some other contagious illness?

Every one of these retailers, in their corporate "wisdom," has made the decision to require employees to work on a national holiday. Some of them are not giving any employees time off. The employees will have to work their full, part-time or full-time schedules throughout the holiday season. If these employees want a day off for a family member's graduation, wedding or funeral, too bad, so sad. If they are scheduled to work that day, they will show up that day. Period. Full stop.

I don't like that one solitary little bit. Kmart's decisions and actions are the most egregious and anti-employee. Don't get me wrong -- if an employee has volunteered to work because they won't be near family, or if they have no family and want to work, they should be able to do so. But it should truly be their choice. They should not be forced, by corporate fiat, to work under threat of losing their jobs.

I commented on a Facebook post that covered this topic this morning. Someone posted after me that, if any employees feel forced to work on a holiday, they should leave. He then posted that there will be a "line of people waiting to take the worker's holiday pay." That is true. These employees can choose to resign and find a job elsewhere.

Except. Except for the fact that, because of more corporate decisions and actions, good, fair-paying, full-time jobs in the retail sector are few and far between. Highly few and far between. If retail employees at any of these stores or others choose to walk, they will be doing so during the worst time of the year. They have rent to pay, car bills and insurance to cover, utilities to pay and groceries to buy. They are stuck -- and worse, they know they are stuck.

If they do leave and have the "good" fortune to find another job, it may be part-time -- and they may realize they can't seek another job because the hours they work week to week are unpredictable. They may work 30 hours one week and 16 the next. Even worse, they may be subject to being placed on-call, meaning they don't know from one day to the next if they will be working or not. These now-former employees can't pay their bills this way.

The corporate bigwigs know this. I suspect it's why they feel they have carte blanche to make employees work on a beloved family holiday, insisting that their employees have, to a person, "volunteered" to do so.

I'm just one underpaid freelance writer. I will be taking Thanksgiving and Christmas off, but I will be working more in the days before and after to ensure that I have money coming in. This is a decision that I, as the owner and CEO of my company have made. I answer to me. I hold considerable responsibility in ensuring that my clients' needs are met -- but I have the freedom to decide how to accomplish that.

While employees of these nine retailers don't have that freedom, they should be able to request time off on a holiday. The retailers should, some months before the holidays, announce that their stores will be dark on Thanksgiving Day. Why is it so important to encourage greed in someone who "just has to" buy that big-screen television or game system? Oh. I forgot. Because the corporations themselves are succumbing to greed.

Sad. So terribly sad. To the employees of the above-named stores, I will be thinking of you -- and I won't be shopping. My two sons both live out of state and I won't see them. But I will be talking to them. I do wish you could be with your families this year. What can we do to ensure you can have family time next year? Let's think about it and start a conversation.