Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for being the busiest retail shoppping day of the year, and a precursor for sales throughout the holiday season. As a result, retailers across the nation are always looking for a way to jump start their holiday sales.
In years past, this translated into most retailers forcing their staff to come in to work as early as 3am to staff stores that would open at 5am - 6am. This would mean that many employees would have to cut their Thanksgiving celebration short to prepare for the early start. Unfortunately, many big retailers feel that 5am is not early enough. This year, several big box retailers are breaking with tradition and kicking off their sales events as early as midnight Thursday. This means that most of the employees of these stores will have to report to work before Thanksgiving Day is even over.
The employees of these stores are largely non-union, and therefore have no recourse to fight this mandatory overtime. For the record, K-Mart, Meijer, and J.C. Penney are resisting the urge and are not opening until 4am - 5am, but Wal-Mart, Target, Macy's, Best Buy, Kohl's, and many others are forcing their employees to open the stores at midnight.
If labor oranizations that represent employees in this industry are looking for an opportunity to organize new facilities, it would be hard to find a better one than this.
I do believe that we, as labor friendly consumers, ought to make our voices heard both physically, by not shopping until regular hours on Friday, as well as contacting companies to let them know this is not ok. Finally, we can approach employees with information on how to organize.
If you are an employee in the retail industry, and have had enough and want to organize, you can contact the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union here: