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What it Means to be a Black Friday Employee

Thanksgiving week is upon us! Of course, if you’ve been in a mall recently you’d think Thanksgiving was long over and we were mere days away from Santa’s arrival. Regardless, with the impending holiday comes the yearly tradition of: shopping! Black Friday is the biggest retail day of the year, and in the past couple of years the retail tradition has crept earlier and earlier with some sales starting at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving. That has some retail employees reeling, and union workers at Wal-Mart stores threatening to strike. So what is the life of a Black Friday employee like? We’ll give you a little more insight into the world of Black Friday employees.

Recently, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union went on strike, and Wal-Mart is fighting back, filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the union. So as the Board decides what to do, it flames the increasing fires surrounding the fairness on labor conditions surrounding the holiday season, and specifically Black Friday.

For reference, the Detroit Free Press lists some big-box store’s hours for the holidays. The article lists eight different stores open on Thanksgiving Day. Of those, four sell groceries, but only one- Meijer- is a grocery store. The others are all retail stores of varying kinds. A number of other stores open at midnight, thereby requiring employees to be at work before midnight on Thanksgiving.

All this leaves retail employees working more hours to accommodate both the increasing demand and supply of Black Friday shopping. It requires employees to forgo Thanksgiving plans in order to prepare for the onslaught of Black Friday customers, and hinders the spirit of the holidays for those who work double shifts or can’t see their family. Wal-Mart may win its case with the Labor Relations Board, but if the spirit of Thanksgiving is giving thanks and celebrating what we have, and it kicks off the holiday season of giving, there is an underlying hypocrisy in taking that away from your employees so as to fulfill it for others.

This Thanksgiving and Black Friday, remember your fellow peers in retail, many of whom may be job seekers looking for some extra holiday cash and missing their holidays for work. Everyone has sacrifices in the employment world, but being able to earn a living and hopefully do what you love is yet another thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Happy Holidays, Spark Hire readers!

Have you ever been an employee in a retail store during Black Friday? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Neon Tommy

Jen Schiller

Jen works as a Marketing Project Manager for a restaurant, a kitchen assistant for cooking classes, helps with database management, does some freelance writing, and more. She received her B.A. from the University of Maryland in Government & Politics in 2011. Currently, she resides in the Washington, D.C. area and is an avid sports fan.

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