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November 24, 2011 6:43 PM   Subscribe

"Too many people are out of work, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples that in different times were a given. So please, protesting retail workers, stop whining about having to work holiday hours. Be grateful to have a job."

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorializes about Target employees' efforts to not have to open stores at midnight on Black Friday.
posted by mightygodking (235 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
This link is to the Onion, right? Please tell me it's the Onion.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:49 PM on November 24, 2011 [25 favorites]


In an economy where job shortages are artificially maintained, corporate management is free to treat their workers like shit.

I've got a better idea , Minneapolis Star-Tribune . How about every damn Target worker go on strike the day before Black Friday and how about they do the same during Christmas week?

Treat workers badly enough and that is exactly what is going to happen. And that is when things will finally turn around.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:50 PM on November 24, 2011 [78 favorites]


Don't aspire to improve your situation. Be thankful for the table scraps your given.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 6:50 PM on November 24, 2011 [179 favorites]


Makes sense that a newspaper would find any Black Friday protestations to be distasteful since I imagine a good portion of their yearly ad revenue is from this time of year.
posted by ian1977 at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Counting down to future headlines:

"Star Tribune Company lays off 400"
"Star Tribune Company posts record loss"
"Star Tribune Company declares bankruptcy again"
posted by aaronetc at 6:53 PM on November 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Too many people are out of work, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples that in different times were a given.

Too many people are working and in the exact same circumstance, many of whom are those retail employees who also get to put up with such wonderful holiday sentiments time and again from shoppers.
posted by Salmonberry at 6:53 PM on November 24, 2011 [16 favorites]


The phenomena of globalizing American jobs, evicting people from their homes, and depriving people of their holiday for a net-zero race to the bottom are not separate problems. They're a common enemy.
posted by tyllwin at 6:53 PM on November 24, 2011 [36 favorites]


I suppose I could make the obvious point that corporations overworking the employees they have and still not hiring is exactly what the job market doesn't need. Or that "be thankful you have a job" shouldn't be a good reason to ridicule someone for protesting poor working conditions. Actually, I could say a a lot more about how tone deaf and impossibly idiotic this editorial is, really.

But, it's Thanksgiving, time is short, and Seriously Go Fuck Yourself Minneapolis Star-Tribune is a lot more succinct.
posted by eyeballkid at 6:54 PM on November 24, 2011 [46 favorites]


Continue to race to the bottom, proles. Be content with the scraps you are given.

Happy holidays from the caring folks at the Star Tribune.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


When I worked commissioned retail sales, I dug Black Friday. Now it's just another (really fucking busy) day in retail. The non-stop hyping and the middle of the night openings aren't any fun for the employees, either, and that Kohl's ad with the singing woman in line pisses me off to no end.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't want to live in the same world as people who write articles like this.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2011 [25 favorites]


So please, protesting retail workers, stop whining about having to work holiday hours.

Holiday hours that include starting work @ midnight? WTF kind of "holiday" is that?

Remember when holiday hours meant "the stores are closed?"
posted by Max Power at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2011 [41 favorites]


Article by: EDITORIAL , Star Tribune
posted by XMLicious at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Too many people are out of work, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples that in different times were a given.

This is not retail employees' fault. In fact, it is pretty much the opposite of their fault.
posted by synecdoche at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2011 [30 favorites]


Look, all we're asking is that you tug your forelock and lower your eyes respectfully. Is that so much to ask? Jeez. It's like you people have forgotten your place or something!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2011 [37 favorites]


It's really surprising that in our age of effortless global communication, workers don't just connect online via facebook, etc, and unionize all the stores in the chain at once. It would instantly shut down the threat of "Oh, we'll have to shut down this store if you unionize."
posted by mullingitover at 6:58 PM on November 24, 2011 [31 favorites]


Aha....a number of comments on the newspaper's site link the editorial to the fact that Target is their biggest advertiser. Nice independent journalism right there.
posted by Salmonberry at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2011 [69 favorites]


It's really surprising that in our age of effortless global communication, workers don't just connect online via facebook, etc, and unionize all the stores in the chain at once.

Back in the mid-90's, I helped lead a (failed) unionization attempt at a now-defunct retailer. We used the net extensively. This shit's harder than it looks.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 PM on November 24, 2011 [18 favorites]


Makes sense that a newspaper would find any Black Friday protestations to be distasteful since I imagine a good portion of their yearly ad revenue is from this time of year.

There's no need to go looking for conspiracy when the simple smug self-regard of the managerial class provides more than ample explanation.

They're not flattering their advertisers, they're congratulating themselves.
posted by gompa at 7:01 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This editorial was mentioned in one of my RSS feeds today along with another blog posting these drawings from a 1935 pamphlet called the "The Ruling Clawss" that seemed apropos.
posted by immlass at 7:03 PM on November 24, 2011 [39 favorites]


Related: Fox News – Let's be thankful for the 1%.

(Also not The Onion. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!)
posted by schmod at 7:03 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Once I complained because I had no shoes. Then I met a man with no feet.

SO QUIT COMPLAINING OR I'LL CUT YOUR OTHER FOOT OFF!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:04 PM on November 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


Too many people are out of work, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

How could such a situation come about?

Star Tribune to lay off 58 workers (Feb. 2008)
Star Tribune to cut 100 more jobs (Nov. 2009)
The Star Tribune's layoff/buyout list (Jan. 2010)

etc., etc.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:04 PM on November 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


jonmc: "Back in the mid-90's, I helped lead a (failed) unionization attempt at a now-defunct retailer. We used the net extensively. This shit's harder than it looks."

The internet of the 90s was a different and much more sparely populated place. There are now more than twice as many internet users as there were in 1999. It would be an order of magnitude easier to organize online now.
posted by mullingitover at 7:06 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Out of frustration with the lack of respect paid to retail workers, I'm refusing to do any holiday shopping at stores that were open today for any amount of time, and asking family not to buy me anything from them either. If I extend the boycott to stores opening at midnight, I'd pretty much be limited to online only merchants. Unionization is the only solution, because my boycott won't mean shit to the corporations.
posted by kyleg at 7:07 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


And the action that would make the lords stop abusing their serfs in this way would be for everyone to refrain from shopping at stores on the holiday. None of you are shopping at stores on the holiday, are you?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:08 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanksgiving: a poor excuse for picking a gigantic retail chain's pocket every fourth Thursday in November.
posted by daisystomper at 7:09 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


uh, third Thursday. Righty oh.
posted by daisystomper at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2011


Here's my brief summary of the piece: When the economy is bad, employers just get to abuse employees, so shut up.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


And this is the newspaper my dad feels has an obvious liberal bias.
posted by werkzeuger at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2011 [9 favorites]



Fox News – Let's be thankful for the 1%.

Because we live in America, even those of us who are going through hard times have access to abundant food, racks of clothing, secure shelter, heating and air-conditioning, and an amazing array of learning and leisure activities.


*brain pulls eject switch, skullcap blows off, brain rockets away*
posted by fleetmouse at 7:10 PM on November 24, 2011 [38 favorites]


So this Minneapolis, it isn't the corporate home of Target, Inc., is it? Lemme check ...

Ah, yes, yes it is.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:11 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sure wish I'd written "you're" up there instead of "your." (edit window plzthx)
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


And this is the newspaper my dad feels has an obvious liberal bias.

Well, they didn't recommend indefinite detention without charges for the employees who organized and endorsed the petition, now, did they? Obvious pinko sympathizers.
posted by gompa at 7:16 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is everybody talking about opening stores the day after Thanksgiving? Don't they know it's Buy Nothing Day?
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:17 PM on November 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm sure the nice people at Target will handsomely reward all their workers when they make a ton of money on Black Friday.

[thinks back to own work in retail.]

Hmmm. Maybe not.
posted by hot_monster at 7:19 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Ugh. I admit that I'm a bit conflicted on this whole issue, but this was balls-to-the-wall bullshit extreme. If you are going to hate on something, star trib, hate on the game, not the players.

On the other hand, I am also a bit confused as to why Target is taking the brunt of all of this. They were one of the last to jump on the bandwagon, and, I imagine did so only because they saw their share of the black Friday pie dwindling with every retailer that jumped on board. Black Friday is serious shit to retailers..not because of the door busters but because of all of the other high-margin items people buy when they are already in the doors. Losing out on that in retail means a whole lot of people won't have jobs to complain about in January, because said jobs won't exist.

Also, why aren't gas stations, truck drivers, airport employees, police officers, hospital workers, etc trying to take back the holidays from their respective employers?
posted by pencroft at 7:19 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is my 15th year or so of complete holiday shopping boycott. I've been called scrooge, grinch. Now do you see who the real scrooge and grinch are?
posted by telstar at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2011 [17 favorites]



It's really surprising that in our age of effortless global communication, workers don't just connect online via facebook, etc, and unionize all the stores in the chain at once. It would instantly shut down the threat of "Oh, we'll have to shut down this store if you unionize."


Holy fuck, you're on to something.

The really sleazy stores like Walmart have a policy of not scheduling people in regular shifts so that they don't form the kind of team camaraderie that leads to them getting uppity.

But now there's Facebook. They can't prevent employees from friending each other. And plotting.

This needs to happen.
posted by ocschwar at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yah, the poor working schlubs will take quite a lot of shaft, but when things start to get reallly hot, some heads gonna roll.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:25 PM on November 24, 2011


Also, why aren't gas stations, truck drivers, airport employees, police officers, hospital workers, etc trying to take back the holidays from their respective employers?

Aside from gas stations and truck drivers, most of the other jobs you mention have stuff called "holiday pay" where the employee gets compensation for working on holidays. Do you think Target or Walmart are offering such incentives to their non-unionized, part time work force?
posted by Max Power at 7:27 PM on November 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's amazing how deeply this "Be grateful for your crumbs, serfs" has penetrated US society. I can't wait until they rewrite A Christmas Carol where job-creating Scrooge is the real hero. Hopefully it ends with him giving one of Ayn Rand's speeches to Bob Crachit.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:28 PM on November 24, 2011 [66 favorites]


There's no need to go looking for conspiracy when the simple smug self-regard of the managerial class provides more than ample explanation.

They're not flattering their advertisers, they're congratulating themselves.


I wasn't suggesting a conspiracy, I was suggesting that a company built on ad revenue is probably pretty likely to be a bastion of pro-business local yokel blowhards.
posted by ian1977 at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2011


[I am confident that we can have this thread without stooping to a "Let's call people the worst names I can think of" level of discourse. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:30 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think they do get holiday pay at Target, at least.
posted by pencroft at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2011


Kid Charlemagne - The troll accusation is just weird. Sorry, not following you at all. That said, I apologize to you and Poet (or anyone else who is offended by my choice of words). In the short 10 minutes of retrospect, yes, much too strong and much too highly charged of a word to use here. Again, my apologies.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:31 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Translation:
Peasants, do not question your lot in this life, it is the will of your noble masters, and our divine King, chosen by God, and we are but mere mortals and humble subject to and infinite mystery and perfection. Work hard, and be humble and obedient and good, and you will receive your rich reward, the undying love of your King and in the afterlife where God will bless you with his beneficent gaze for eternity, and happiness, and freedom from suffering and hunger and sickness will be forever vanquished...
posted by Skygazer at 7:36 PM on November 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I used to work in retail.

I've boycotted Black Friday ever since.

It's not just the working on a holiday (for no extra holiday pay) that sucks. It's not just the getting up early and staying up late and not getting so much as a thank you from your boss. It's not just the missing out on time with your family and friends.

It's the being assailed by a host of frustrated, frenzied shoppers who are sick of the crowds, sick of standing in line, practically rabid with avarice and the fear that they won't get what they've come for, and yet still somehow positively giddy with this feeling they have that they're somehow winning, somehow tricking the stores into giving them these fabulous deals (which they aren't, of course-- the stores are tricking them in most cases into spending much more than they planned). Shoppers on Black Friday are so high on this mix of emotions they forget to act like rational human. They don't treat store employees or each other with respect. It's no wonder to me that people get trampled in doorways, really. When I was a college-age retail drudge, Black Friday customers shoved me roughly out of the way; customers screamed obscenities because I'd had the gall to sell some other customer who was ahead of them in line the last whatever, etc. -- and this was in an upscale mall in a store aimed at middle-aged women.

I've had some shitty jobs but I wouldn't wish working retail on Black Friday on anyone, except for maybe the idiots who wrote this editorial.

If you absolutely must shop on Black Friday, for heaven's sake, be kind to the store employees, and take a minute to thank them for being there.

I boycotted Kmart and Sears for a year after the first time I saw Kmart open on Thanksgiving. I don't know what to do in response this year, though -- too many stores have jumped on the awful holiday-eliminating bandwagon.
posted by BlueJae at 7:38 PM on November 24, 2011 [43 favorites]


I was recently in the Netherlands for work and everything retail closes super early there and on Sunday practically nothing is open. I was talking to some locals about why that is and they looked at me like I was dim. "So people can be with their families and have a life of course."
posted by ian1977 at 7:38 PM on November 24, 2011 [54 favorites]


There's one thing about modern America: people might not have much but they certainly have the energy to be resentful and suspicious of anyone poorer than them.
posted by jaduncan at 7:38 PM on November 24, 2011 [49 favorites]


The fine chaps who actually wrote this editorial, brainstorming.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 7:42 PM on November 24, 2011


Shitty editorial pieces like these don't really inspire me to fight the Death of Print Media.

See you on the pogey line, paperboys! YOU'RE NEXT.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:43 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the state of Maine, everyone gets the holidays off because there's no work between November and May. We go on unemployment if we're lucky, or we eat rolled oats all winter. Ever try to run a car on saw gas?

Oh, and the governor wants to drug test people receiving the unemployment insurance they've already paid for.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:44 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. I will say this about the editorial -- it is right out there. It doesn't use any sophistry or word-twisting to make its blatant apology for the interests of the powerful. There's no defending it at all. It is such concentrated evil you should keep it away from your friends lest it turn them all into hermit crabs.
posted by JHarris at 7:44 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's hard for me to comment on something like this without descending into a torrent of spittle-flecked obscenities. What the hell America?
posted by octothorpe at 7:51 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're turning working shitty hours into class warfare here? Seriously?
posted by hellslinger at 8:03 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The most egregious sleight of hand the Right has been able to shove down the country's throat over the last 30 years, hook, line and sinker, Like that Fox piece does (Let's Give Thanks for the 1%), is the myth that a plutocracy and economic mobility are complimentary somehow and the more wealth is concentrated in the 1%, the greater chance it will create even more wealth, that will be spread out to the masses.

It's like magical thinking or Ponzi scheme for dreams of fabulous success and prosperity. The dreaming itself makes people think they have to fight for the status quo. Even while they're in reality living in a fantasy and sabotaging the reality of it.

It is in-fucking-credible and in-fucking-furiating in it's utter bullshit and numbing cognitive dissonance.
posted by Skygazer at 8:03 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


I'm glad I'm celebrating Thanksgiving midnight the way it should be celebrated, by flaming a newspaper full of morons on Metafilter.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:06 PM on November 24, 2011 [20 favorites]


You're half an hour east of Newfoundland?
posted by maudlin at 8:06 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fuck Target for looking to profit off of the American consumer's insane desire to buy cheap shit at 4am on a Friday morning. What kind of crazy capitalist paradise do they think they're living in?

If you're a retail employee and you don't need the extra cash, quit and let someone who really needs the money man the register.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:09 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


"You're turning working shitty hours into class warfare here? Seriously?"


Things have gotten shittier and shittier for the working class. The idea that anyone who points this out is engaged in "class warfare" is the ultimate is mindfucked propaganda.
posted by mikeand1 at 8:10 PM on November 24, 2011 [43 favorites]


I recently had the temerity to mention that I was tired out from my 85 hour work week. I have three jobs, I bust my ass...and dammitall, it's exhausting. I was given the "be grateful" and "bootstraps" speech, and was expected to be grateful for the speech, too.

Nothing I responded with is printable in polite company.

This sort of shitty attitude isn't going to stop until workers collectively rise up and beat the fuck out of every last mouthbreather that spouts it.
posted by MissySedai at 8:14 PM on November 24, 2011 [24 favorites]


As much as I think this sux, there's a small part of me who remembers the time when thanksgiving felt like a bunch of spoilt children arguing over the largest slice of cake.

Thanksgiving being an American festival.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:14 PM on November 24, 2011


BobbyVan, I used to be an order taker for Pizza Pizza. I worked in a room full of people taking calls for the worst pizza in Toronto. We had the option -- not the requirement but the option -- to work holidays for time and a half or even double time. I worked one New Year's Day with a terrible case of flu because I really wanted that money.

It sounds as if Target employees can't turn down midnight Black Friday shifts without risking their jobs. BIG difference. Turning down what you call "extra cash" could mean losing their job, which seems to have been a reasonably decent one before this change in policy.

Yay for unionized pizza-order-taking!
posted by maudlin at 8:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


In fairness, they did also write an editorial saying that abused children should be happy to have a home.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [26 favorites]


People use the phrase "class warfare" as if the working class are the instigators, without realizing that class warfare has in fact been going on all along, waged by the managerial/capital-owning class.
posted by manguero at 8:17 PM on November 24, 2011 [51 favorites]


And the race to the bottom continues.
posted by steamynachos at 8:17 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hardwick’s intentions are good, but when nearly 14 million Americans are unemployed, complaining about work hours is grossly self-indulgent. Many unemployed workers would love a steady paycheck to stave off a home foreclosure

I like this fantasy world where Target not only pays a living wage, but enough to support a mortgage.

Also, I hope nobody gets trampled this year. Fucking animals, us.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


I had no idea that Target had started offering health insurance to its part-time employees, much less enough that they could afford to buy houses!
posted by gracedissolved at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


"The idea that anyone who points this out is engaged in "class warfare" is the ultimate is mindfucked propaganda."

No.

Being out of work for many months or losing your retirement because some asshole gambled it away by means of unethical financial practices is something to get mad about.

Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby.
posted by hellslinger at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby.

Can I go ahead and guess that you're not typing these words from work?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:21 PM on November 24, 2011 [34 favorites]


Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby.

What if you are working those late hours in retail because of the reasons you laid out in your first sentence?
posted by Max Power at 8:22 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


maudlin: "
It sounds as if Target employees can't turn down midnight Black Friday shifts without risking their jobs. BIG difference. Turning down what you call "extra cash" could mean losing their job, which seems to have been a reasonably decent one before this change in policy.
"

That's about right. EVERYBODY works a shift on Black Friday, and the busiest time of the day (er, night) is the opening rush. Which used to be at 6 AM, then 4 AM, and now midnight. And as the hours get worse and worse, the actual compensation stays the same. Time and a half for holiday hours? Yeah, right.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


You know, I could almost see this as some insidious war on traditional American holidays.
posted by namespan at 8:23 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


First against the wall, motherfucker.

Steel yourself.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:23 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby.

So you are working late hours on a holiday doing retail?

losing your retirement because some asshole gambled it away


What, you had a retirement account? Aw, lost it? Baby.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on November 24, 2011 [39 favorites]


You're half an hour east of Newfoundland?

I'm working on a midnight post.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:25 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, BobbyVan, fuck target for exploiting their workers and the Star-Tribune for helping them to do so.

The most disgusting thing about the Black Friday madness this year is that this wasn't actually a particularly big shopping day until recent years, retailers just tried to make it out to be. And the uptick in recent years is due to online sales. So the inhuman hours here are essentially pointless.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:29 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


*necromances for zombie FDR to save capitalism from itself*
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:30 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby.

You know it.
posted by baby_jessamyn at 8:31 PM on November 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


So you are working late hours on a holiday doing retail?

And no matter how I answer this you'll be prepared to dismiss what I say based upon lack of empathy/rest/whatever.
posted by hellslinger at 8:36 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've noticed in the past that this kind of in-house unsigned editorial is sometimes written by a committee of folks that includes people not on the masthead. But this guy's position is the one that stamps "approved" on all of them before they appear in the Star Tribune. It's a good bet this absurdly tone-deaf editorial accurately reflects his feelings (especially about making his favorite advertiser happy), so he's the one who would probably most benefit from some polite feedback.
posted by mediareport at 8:38 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


And no matter how I answer this you'll be prepared to dismiss what I say based upon lack of empathy/rest/whatever

That's probably because what you wrote was a line of bullshit.
posted by waitingtoderail at 8:39 PM on November 24, 2011 [23 favorites]


Hellslinger: there is a huge difference of being offered holiday hours for double-time and being forced to work at 2 am in the morning on one of your few holiday evenings with the family that you have each year, the latter of which is what Target is doing.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


You're turning working shitty hours into class warfare here? Seriously?

i think it's hilarious how conservatives keep spreading the class warfare meme - yeah, that's real intelligent of you
posted by pyramid termite at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2011 [10 favorites]


That's probably because what you wrote was a line of bullshit.

Because anything you don't agree with is bullshit, of course.
posted by hellslinger at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And no matter how I answer this you'll be prepared to dismiss what I say based upon lack of empathy/rest/whatever.

No. I already dismissed it based on the fact that you didn't offer an argument, but instead an unsupported word of mockery.

I will, however, retort. Let's say you're a single mother. Usually, you can work shifts at Target, because their hours are 9am - 10am, or whatever, and they have worked around your needs in the past. Your child is off at school, or there is a family member to watch them. But now, on the very evening of what is traditionally a family holiday, not only do you need to go from however you celebrate the event directly to work, but you also have to find somebody to care for your child. Can you turn down the hours? Not without risking your job.

That's a genuine hardship. And it's one of dozens of similar hardships I can name, and you probably could too, if you actually thought about the subject, instead of simply brushing off people's legitimate complaints with naught by a word of contempt.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2011 [74 favorites]


9am-10pm, rather.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:44 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hellslinger: there is a huge difference of being offered holiday hours for double-time and being forced to work at 2 am in the morning on one of your few holiday evenings with the family that you have each year, the latter of which is what Target is doing.

The article says this guy is part time. If he works multiple jobs and actually can't get back to his family, I truly feel bad for him.
posted by hellslinger at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


When times were better, retail giants forcing employees to work on treasured family holidays could easily be painted as corporate greed run amok. But today it’s hardly fair to paint merchants as retail Scrooges.

Oh, yes it is. It is. It's fair. It's totally fair. It's totally and completely fair and accurate to paint merchants that force terrible working conditions as retail Scrooges. It's right and appropriate and important and fair to do this.
posted by zardoz at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2011 [37 favorites]


My daughter just left, so she can get some sleep before her shift at Target. 11:30 PM to 8 AM, for the princely sum of $9 per hour. She already had a shift today, as well. No overtime, cause, ya know, midnight.

Funny thing was, she mentioned that many customers today were pissed because... they were going to "have to" come in at midnight, or all the good stuff would be gone!

The world is strange.
posted by underflow at 8:48 PM on November 24, 2011 [51 favorites]


From the article:
One of the ironies in the petition drive is that consumer demand is what’s needed to pull the nation out of the doldrums — whether that demand comes at midnight or 8 a.m.
So make it 8 am.
posted by mazola at 8:49 PM on November 24, 2011 [15 favorites]


Hey, Target.com, hope you're doing ok. After you had us write all of your item description text, you fired all of us, and didn't keep track of how words work. Hope your text makes sense. ps. HA HA HA.
posted by nicething at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


A family member of mine has been boycotting Target for over a year now and I am really running out of reasons to not do the same. As I've already been boycotting Wal-Mart for years, I'm going to have to start getting creative on where I buy all my toiletries. I guess Costco or Walgreens are my answers here.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


“There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil - remain detached from the great, you newspaper full of morons.”

-Walter Lippmann
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:00 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


Funny thing was, she mentioned that many customers today were pissed because... they were going to "have to" come in at midnight, or all the good stuff would be gone!


Yes, that's exactly it. No-one really has any fucking idea what's going on. Some asshole in promotions at Wal Mart thought "hey, why don't we start the sales at midnight" and suddenly every other retailer is scrambling to do the same thing. There's probably no real business case to be made for it. They're just flailing about. It really is that fucked.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:00 PM on November 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


The ruling class is really fucking asking for it, hoo boy.
posted by clockzero at 9:02 PM on November 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, why aren't gas stations, truck drivers, airport employees, police officers, hospital workers, etc trying to take back the holidays from their respective employers?

Because most of those jobs have unions that make sure employers pay overtime?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


And this is the newspaper my dad feels has an obvious liberal bias.

At one time, a person might have had a valid reason for thinking this.

But at one time, Minnesota was populated by mammoths and saber-toothed cats. Recently, not so much.
posted by gimonca at 9:02 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a genuine hardship.

Bunny Ultramod, I'll take your retort as a negation of your statement that I made no argument and say this: Working late doing customer service/retail is nothing new.

Working at 4am is certainly worse than working at 11pm or midnight. A hardship indeed. I frequently work and study all night to meet deadlines and pay bills. I've been struggling for money for years now in a hard economy. I'm not a single mother or anything like that, so I do have to take a step back and realize I have it pretty good.

I hate Target stores. I hate mainstream materialism and really fucking hate "holiday shopping" and "black friday". I don't participate.

Do I think that requiring employees to work late within the law to maximize profits on the holidays makes a company an evil empire? No.
posted by hellslinger at 9:05 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'll take your retort as a negation of your statement that I made no argument

Boy, that works out well for you, doesn't it?

And your newer comment is counterfactual, because, in fact, working midnight on Black Friday IS new. And being expected to is new. The people who work late-night shifts generally work late-night shifts as a matter of course, and don't have it thrust upon them with little notice and no opportunity to refuse.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2011 [12 favorites]


Funny thing was, she mentioned that many customers today were pissed because... they were going to "have to" come in at midnight, or all the good stuff would be gone!

This is exactly how this may well backfire. People who might've joined the stampede at 8am won't bother going at all, on the assumption that the stores will have been picked clean by then.

Here's hoping!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:10 PM on November 24, 2011 [9 favorites]


Do I think that requiring employees to work late within the law to maximize profits on the holidays makes a company an evil empire? No.

I can't believe I'm asking this, but why not? I mean yeah, this is not exactly a Triangle Shirtwaist situation here, but it's a completely irrelevant, self-invented stunt created to meet imaginary sales goals, and the burden is almost entirely borne by the lower-level employees who have the least say in the matter, and who will benefit the least from it.
posted by hermitosis at 9:11 PM on November 24, 2011 [39 favorites]


Boy, that works out well for you, doesn't it?

It works just as well as you ignoring my previous arguments in order to assert that I made none. Convenient, right?
posted by hellslinger at 9:13 PM on November 24, 2011


I hope their stores are full of obnoxious drunks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:14 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking of things that aren't working well.
posted by box at 9:15 PM on November 24, 2011


Okay, I take that back, just more annoyance for the employees.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


That could be arranged.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just make sure to only vomit on the manager.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


It works just as well as you ignoring my previous arguments in order to assert that I made none.

"You're a baby" isn't an argument, it's a playground taunt.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:17 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Hermitosis, you do make a good point: this particular injustice might not be what makes Target evil.
posted by hellslinger at 9:17 PM on November 24, 2011


Admittedly , I was going to go to Target this evening and pick up stuff for a new apartment I just moved into but considering this thread and their employee practices I can't get the stuff elsewhere.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:17 PM on November 24, 2011


....that's I can get the stuff elsewhere
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:18 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


And, you know, thinking about it, what really gets my goat about this idiotic op-ed is that it's precisely the fact that unemployment is so high and people are scared they won't be able to get another job that Target, etc. can get away with this kind of shit at all. In a better economy, their employees would have just jumped ship to some other store at the mall.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


"You're turning working shitty hours into class warfare here? Seriously?"
----
Things have gotten shittier and shittier for the working class. The idea that anyone who points this out is engaged in "class warfare" is the ultimate is mindfucked propaganda.


Not even... the idea that class warfare is a bad thing is mindfucked. The lower and middle classes have been getting torn to shreds, lined up against ditches and shot for decades now. It is time for retaliation. No half-stepping - the time to go to war is NOW.
posted by FatherDagon at 9:23 PM on November 24, 2011 [8 favorites]


"You're a baby" isn't an argument, it's a playground taunt.

In the context of my whole message it was an argument, which you have misquoted here.
posted by hellslinger at 9:28 PM on November 24, 2011


The game of misfortune one-upsmanship is a huge turn-off.
posted by adoarns at 9:30 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the context of my whole message it was an argument, which you have misquoted here.

I am not clear on it then. Was it this: Some people have it bad, and everybody else is a baby?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:31 PM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


hellslinger: you're really coming off as kind of a gotta-get-the-last-word-in kind of person here and It's not doing your arguments any good. For whatever that's worth.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


hellslinger: "Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby."

Dude, this statement is making baby Jesus AND baby Jessamyn cry.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:33 PM on November 24, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think the editorial makes a good point. Life sucks for a whole lot of people who work retail. When you're in the business of selling stuff, you gotta work when people are willing to buy. That's simply how the game is played. If it offends you, don't play.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't aspire to improve your situation. Be thankful for the table scraps your given.

OccupyXmas? Protesters eye holiday shopping as next target


Other groups are planning more subtle actions. Activists in Idaho plan to dress up as "consumer zombies" and wander around shopping centers to protest what they see as the numbing effect of conspicuous consumption.

Is it an IRL meet up?
posted by infini at 9:36 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the editorial makes a good point. Life sucks for a whole lot of people who work retail. When you're in the business of selling stuff, you gotta work when people are willing to buy. That's simply how the game is played. If it offends you, don't play feed your kids.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Aha....a number of comments on the newspaper's site link the editorial to the fact that Target is their biggest advertiser. Nice independent journalism right there.

Newspaper editorials in the United States typically reflect the view of the publisher of the newspaper. They're not supposed to be "independent journalism" in the first place.
posted by Jahaza at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2011


Fwiw I'm working today and tomorrow just because the business owner for my project is a jackass. He tried to schedule a major release for 9 pm last night, ops put a stop to that so as a fuck you he scheduled it for Saturday.

It only makes sense stores are going to be open, people have the day off and want to spend money, maybe find people who want a couple hours work instead of scheduling people who would rather be with their families.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:42 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot fathom the sort of mind that would write that - nor the commenters here and on the Tribune site that approve of this.

People aren't even ashamed of the monsters they've become any more. And before the collapse comes - and it's coming soon - you're going to see things out of America that will make sociopathic ideas like this seem like a mother's kiss.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:47 PM on November 24, 2011 [31 favorites]


Infini - Kalle Lasn must be a happy man right now. Love the zombie idea.
posted by Numenius at 9:48 PM on November 24, 2011


Are you sure this editorial wasn't in the New York Times or Washington Post? Because that's exactly what kind of 'formerly-liberal-media' outlet they're becoming.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:49 PM on November 24, 2011


When I worked commissioned retail sales, I dug Black Friday. Now it's just another (really fucking busy) day in retail. The non-stop hyping and the middle of the night openings aren't any fun for the employees, either, and that Kohl's ad with the singing woman in line yt pisses me off to no end.
Oh god I saw that on TV at someone's house. I hope the Ark Music Factory guys got some nice change out of that. This related video is pretty funny though. Apparently Kohls supports pushing old ladies and 'Worser music'
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on November 24, 2011


I'll be concise and clear for you touchy, quick-with-the-strawman types:

I don't believe that working shitty hours is not worthy of complaint among much greater injustices. I believe it makes the activism about a bad economy weaker and less potent. This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices.

Call me an asshole (which I'm sure you would be very proud and satisfied to state that you already have) but don't misquote or strawman my argument.
posted by hellslinger at 9:51 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: "And, you know, thinking about it, what really gets my goat about this idiotic op-ed is that it's precisely the fact that unemployment is so high and people are scared they won't be able to get another job that Target, etc. can get away with this kind of shit at all. In a better economy, their employees would have just jumped ship to some other store at the mall."

Hit the nail on the head right there. These op-eds conveniently ignore the basic principles of contracts for employment - the idea that an employment contract, like any other contract, should be a formed as a result of a fair negotiation. While this is possible to a certain extent with an individual employee and a smaller retail employer in a crap economy, that concept breaks down and becomes unworkable when scaled up to massive retailers in a crap economy.* It's precisely this type of economy in which collective bargaining is needed the most. An individual employee in a market with high unemployment has little, if any power to bargain with a massive corporation for holiday pay or reasonable working hours.

* I suppose you could make the argument that the check on that at the retailer level is that high employee turnover causes a loss in productivity, so the employer is more incentivized to maintain employee loyalty to keep retention levels high, but that contradicts the argument in the op-ed, as well as what's actually being reported on the ground in ununionized retail operations.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:51 PM on November 24, 2011 [14 favorites]


Call me an asshole (which I'm sure you would be very proud and satisfied to state that you already have) but don't misquote or strawman my argument.

Can I suggest that maybe you haven't been making your points very clearly? Can I further suggest that your decision to end your first comment with an insult may not have made people too eager to dig into the marrow of your point?

And may I point out that "People will see you as babies" is much different than "complaining makes you a baby"?

Also, immediately claiming that this is class war makes you look foolish.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:56 PM on November 24, 2011 [13 favorites]


Just make sure to only vomit on the manager.

It's just as wrong to blame it on a manager as it is to blame it on a regular employee. I know, my partner is a manager at a retail store. And they're just as far down the chain, receiving just as many burdens. Heck, even more, because they're the ones you go to when you're pissed and need to find someone to berate to make you feel better.
When it comes to large chains like Target, the real people who need to be vomited on will be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on, and then stuck up high in their glass towers during normal working hours.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:57 PM on November 24, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Getting mad about working late hours on a holiday doing retail is being a baby."

If this was the only thing going on, I'd say you might have a point. But this is just one in a whole slew of indignities these same workers have to deal with.

BTW, I grew up working hard labor jobs -- construction, demolition, lumberyards, ditch-digging, loading trucks, driving trucks, you name it. And the number of 90-hour weeks I've worked didn't stop after I got my education, because I've worked just as hard as an attorney.

So let's not get started with the "being a baby" bit, because I'm pretty sure I could win that particular pissing contest.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:57 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Beyond the whole class warfare argument, what I don't understand is this:

Does it really, seriously make a difference to your ultimate sales if you're open at midnight? If you're not open at midnight, do people say 'fuck it, man, I'm not going to a store that's only open in the daytime to buy this TV, I guess I'll just do without!'

I mean, I can see how convenience stores capture an ongoing overnight market by being open, that they would otherwise lose to other stores during the day. But if someone wants to go to Target's Black Friday sale, won't they go in the morning? Does it end up making a difference or do they just spread the same sales out over a longer, more annoying time period?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:01 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, immediately claiming that this is class war makes you look foolish.

That's what I said.
posted by hellslinger at 10:01 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's most irritating about the editorial is that the employees in question aren't "complaining about working holiday hours." They're (legitimately) complaining about being forced to work third-shift hours in a job that usually doesn't have a third shift. Generally speaking employers have to offer a pay differential to work NOC because it's so awful. In this case, not so much.

Also, I have pulled all-nighters (for work deadlines and for school) and I have worked night shifts. Really not comparable.
posted by gingerest at 10:01 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


hellslinger: "I don't believe that working shitty hours is not worthy of complaint among much greater injustices. I believe it makes the activism about a bad economy weaker and less potent. This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices."

I'm not following your argument here. You state that working shitty hours is worthy of complaint, but then later state that it's just a symptom of a greater disease and it makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices. Is your argument that rather than focus on the issue of bad working conditions in ununionized retail, we need to focus on fixing the economy?

The thing is, I would disagree with your argument that the shitty working conditions are a symptom of a bad economy. I'd argue that the shitty working conditions are one of the contributing factors to the bad economy.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:03 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's what I said.

I think you're being disingenuous here. You're the one who said class war at the jump. Nobody else. Please don't do that and then complain others are turning your arguments into straw men.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't believe that working shitty hours is not worthy of complaint among much greater injustices. I believe it makes the activism about a bad economy weaker and less potent. This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices.

So where do they fight the Good Fight? Where's the battlefield? Where do they draw the line? If this is not the situation to rail against, then where? What, hellslinger, should Target workers do to improve their working conditions? What's the best strategy, then?
posted by zardoz at 10:04 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


the real people who need to be vomited on will be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on, and then stuck up high in their glass towers during normal working hours.

The real people who need to be vomited on won't be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on. They'll be clawing their way to game consoles, and TVs at unbelievable prices.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:05 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dr. Zira,

Oops. The "not" in the first sentence of my post was a mistake.

Unfortunately, I did not get a sense for the bad conditions you speak of, which everyone can agree are different from just bad hours, and would definitely change the nature and magnitude of the injustice.
posted by hellslinger at 10:11 PM on November 24, 2011


jacquilynne: "But if someone wants to go to Target's Black Friday sale, won't they go in the morning? Does it end up making a difference or do they just spread the same sales out over a longer, more annoying time period?"

I think it might be the latter. If there were a deal I'd be interested in getting at Big Box Retailer X, I'd be tempted to go now instead of tomorrow to beat the crowds. I'm thinking the attempt to extend the sales period is to reach the antisocial cranks like me for whom the savings achieved during the sale is not a sufficient incentive to outweigh the inconvenience of crowds. Then again, there's also that fear factor mentioned upthread about not being able to get a deal unless you're there right when the doors open and they run out of the item on sale.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:11 PM on November 24, 2011


Not everyone who works on holidays gets overtime or special holiday pay....ask the hospital custodians, the nursing home staff, the folks working at the local Holiday Inn or Hilton, etc. Way Back In The Day I was the low person on the totem pole at the local Western Union office, which was non-union, and I had to work on holidays at my regular hourly wage. I had the same option as these current disgruntled Target employees - if you don't want to work on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday or the midnight shift, etc, then you can quit and find employment elsewhere.

Retailers opening at midnight for Black Friday is nothing new and not something suddenly set in place to exploit the current unemployment pool; Mr. Adams had to report for work late Thanksgiving night when he worked at Circuit City back in 1996 because the store was going to open at midnight for Black Friday. It was a fact of retail life then as it is now. Employers, whether they be in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, service, or whatever, have always treated their employees the same way - expecting them to work whenever told and to be grateful for whatever compensation given.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:14 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


As TheWhiteSkull, underflow, and others have pointed out, there isn't a business necessity for this. If the stores had the decency to agree to open no earlier than 8 AM, they would sell just as much stuff. The lower level workers are being screwed solely by the game theory dynamics that are playing out between the marketing divisions of the retail stores.
posted by Numenius at 10:25 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


So where do they fight the Good Fight? Where's the battlefield? Where do they draw the line? If this is not the situation to rail against, then where? What, hellslinger, should Target workers do to improve their working conditions? What's the best strategy, then?

I regret my petty derail there earlier because I am interested in answers to this. I think the whole package of "indignities" (as mikeand1 mentioned) would provide the context to gain the support of those who wouldn't otherwise.
posted by hellslinger at 10:26 PM on November 24, 2011


hellslinger: "Unfortunately, I did not get a sense for the bad conditions you speak of, which everyone can agree are different from just bad hours, and would definitely change the nature and magnitude of the injustice."

Okay, I think I understand what you're saying. I think you're making the argument that in retail, holiday themed sales and the extra hours and work put into them are part of the bargain, and that's part of the territory that you accept when accepting the job, just like cops and firemen know that there's a certain amount of danger that comes with those lines of work. In other words, when you sign up to work retail, you know there's going to be lots of extra hours put into certain times of year like Thanksgiving and Memorial day, but those are predictable and temporary, so the inconvenience to the employee in working longer hours during those holiday times is a different issue from a situation in which an employee is repeatedly asked and regularly expected to work overtime.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:28 PM on November 24, 2011


2N2222: "The real people who need to be vomited on won't be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on. They'll be clawing their way to game consoles, and TVs at unbelievable prices."

Holy crap, I agree with something 2N222 said.
posted by notsnot at 10:33 PM on November 24, 2011


the folks working at the local Holiday Inn

They get holiday pay e'ryday.

the real people who need to be vomited on will be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on, and then stuck up high in their glass towers during normal working hours.

More realistically, the people who need to be vomited on are executives with work/life boundary issues who stole away multiple times from the Thanksgiving table to tap off directives on their enterprise iphones and secretly dream of having a shift work job where they could just walk out the door and leave all their job responsibilities and fail to understand what the big deal is with a midnight opening because goddamnit I can't count how many times this year I was working overnight trying to figure out/explain to the board/explain to Wall Street how I'm going to make up sales in this shit economy.
posted by eddydamascene at 10:44 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


As TheWhiteSkull, underflow, and others have pointed out, there isn't a business necessity for this.

How can you be so sure? Are you privy to their books? There seems to be a pretty long tradition of crazy Black Friday sales, which suggests that there is a good deal of incentive to continue the practice.

There isn't a necessity for all us snowflakes on MF for Target to open on midnight. But it's not a surprise that MF posters are not Target's bread and butter.

Holy crap, I agree with something 2N222 said.

Don't agree too quickly. My point is that the derision on Target is wholly misplaced. If you must do your hating, do it on the demand side. But really, I have no use for derision on anyone involved. Not the demand side, who feels like shopping in the middle of the worst shopping night of the year, nor on the supply side, who want to take advantage of the folks ready to hand over their money. Not even on Hardwick, who seems clearly in the wrong line of work.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2011


Although, eddydamascene, the executives who

secretly dream of having a shift work job where they could just walk out the door and leave all their job responsibilities and fail to understand what the big deal is with a midnight opening because goddamnit I can't count how many times this year I was working overnight trying to figure out/explain to the board/explain to Wall Street how I'm going to make up sales in this shit economy.

aren't working all night for 9.00 an hour, no health insurance, and no job after New Years.
posted by jrochest at 11:00 PM on November 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Does it really, seriously make a difference to your ultimate sales if you're open at midnight?

It's strictly an arms race between retailers. If Target opens at 9 am, they'll lose that TV sale to Wal-Mart who opens at 8 am. They're leap-frogging one another in an attempt to get a finite number of customers into their store first, before they go somewhere else.

In 10 years, Black Friday will start on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:08 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


In 10 years, Black Friday will start on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:08 PM on November 24 [+] [!]


Pretty much. I used to work in an Australian big box retail store, and watched the (fairly big deal) annual Christmas toy sale start a week or two earlier every year in an attempt to leap frog competitors who were doing the exact same thing.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 11:15 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


This brings to mind Chik-fil-a, which does not open at all on Sundays, because of a principle (albeit one that many of you would not agree with).
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:23 PM on November 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you're not open at midnight, do people say 'fuck it, man, I'm not going to a store that's only open in the daytime to buy this TV, I guess I'll just do without!'

Well, I suppose in one sense they might very well indeed say 'fuck it, if Target (or Walmart or McDonalds or whatever) ain't open then I am going to Walmart (or Target or or Burger King or whatever).

So in a sense, you can't even blame the policymakers at Target. They'd be skewered by the shareholders if they let Walmart beat them for sales during the Black Friday shopapalooza. Possibly they are in a position to make a principled stance, and for all we know maybe some of them do. But unless profits show that being nice pays dividends to the shareholders, they simply will not be nice. Or rather, they will be exactly as nice as they need to be, and then strive to be just a little less nice all the time, at least so far as it involves $$$.

Ultimately, it is just the culture of greed and impossible to maintain presumed constant expansion that is to blame. But that is a huge headless nameless leviathan. Target is filled with a bunch of people that really are doing what they are told to do, from the top down. The only possibility for change that I see is to slowly, gently, just reframe awareness from the top down gradient power structure of resources: more/less...to a network of neighbors. If we really are the 99%, then this should be quite easy over time. It is like starting the wave at a ballpark.

Now it could be that the pharoahs clamp down, I mean really clamp down, like this whole little individual human autonomy thing of the past few centuries was just a little experiment and they had us on a short leash the entire time. But really it is only us who can turn on each other, and we can be tricked into doing it.
posted by ian1977 at 11:26 PM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]


This brings to mind Chik-fil-a, which does not open at all on Sundays, because of a principle

Retailers are not opening up earlier each year because of Jaysus.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 PM on November 24, 2011


I actually can't endure large crowds now. People pushing and shoving and so on drives me buggy. I get things in January for that year's gifts. I do not NEED a gigantic flat-screen.
I do not need an endless supply of cheap crap from Chima.
Neither do my loved ones or friends.
I mainly buy in stores with union employees.
I had to sit through endless rantage by a couple knuckle-headed family members about how awful unions
are, how evil Obama is and so on. Of course I don't bother with political discussions with these people. I am too tired frankly.
I just eat my turkey, and a few other things and get taken home.
These people aren't all bad, just so ill-informed and so set in their opinions that you can't change anything.
I bet a lot of big retail outlet employees would LOVR to organize,
But on Facebook, employers actually check out your stuff.
Some more private venue would be smarter.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:40 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ultimately, it is just the culture of greed and impossible to maintain presumed constant expansion that is to blame.

Is it a culture of greed? I mean, I'm in SoCal and on Thanksgiving there's a lot of Asian businesses (mostly Korean and Chinese) open on Thanksgiving, and they always have.

It's crap that workers can't get full-time work, don't get a decent wage, and get treated by crap by bosses and customers, but I don't see it as necessarily a bad thing if a business is open during Christmas or Thanksgiving.
posted by FJT at 11:51 PM on November 24, 2011


I had to sit through endless rantage by a couple knuckle-headed family members about how awful unions are

Same experience here. Fox News Thanksgiving talking points?
posted by eddydamascene at 11:53 PM on November 24, 2011


But if someone wants to go to Target's Black Friday sale, won't they go in the morning? Does it end up making a difference or do they just spread the same sales out over a longer, more annoying time period?

Consumers (I know, I loathe that word too, but it's accurate here) have a relatively set amount of money. Once it's gone, they can't use it. So stores are competing for each other for that limited amount of money. By not opening at midnight or 10PM, they're losing the opportunity to get that money.

Does it really, seriously make a difference to your ultimate sales if you're open at midnight?

It does if your competitors are open at midnight. As others mentioned, it's a game theory problem, related to the centipede game. An arms race.

Ignoring the economic model, there's a sociological/cultural/psychological one.

Retailers have managed to turn Black Friday into a new American festival. A modern day Bacchanalia, a distinctly American capitalistic frenzy.

To be honest, every year there's a sick part of me that wants to go to this just because I enjoy the chaos. I want to see the destruction. And I know I'm not the only one whose desires are on that side.

But I choose not to, and support OWS and others who fight against this. It's interesting looking at the people against OWS in other threads and for the corporations in this thread. All their arguments about the lack of direction of the movement and new focus on police brutality are shown as the bullshit they really are.
posted by formless at 11:57 PM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is an OWS issue?
posted by 2N2222 at 12:07 AM on November 25, 2011


I had to sit through endless rantage by a couple knuckle-headed family members about how awful unions are

Same experience here. Fox News Thanksgiving talking points?


Dunno about unions, but same-sex marriage was definitely on the list of topics this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wfcc4wfv5A
posted by jopreacher at 1:06 AM on November 25, 2011


This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices.

If illnesses never presented symptoms, no one would ever go to the doctor. It is absolutely, 100% a-ok to complain about symptoms. That's how you figure out what's wrong and find a solution. And often, that solution includes temporary treatment for the symptoms until the disease is cured. It's not weakness to want that.
posted by solotoro at 1:27 AM on November 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Kid Charlemagne - The troll accusation is just weird. Sorry, not following you at all.

Sorry, I didn't mean you, I meant the author of this little sad little editorial. The whole "somebody out there X more than you X, ergo you have no right to your opinion about X' is an ancient troll stratagem from when they first got away from billy goats and went on line.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:35 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Crabby Appleton: "This brings to mind Chik-fil-a, which does not open at all on Sundays, because of a principle (albeit one that many of you would not agree with)."
Blazecock Pileon: "Retailers are not opening up earlier each year because of Jaysus."

This is an interesting point, and Chik-fil-a might not be the best example because it's a slightly different industry (food service versus retail department store). A better example might be Hobby Lobby, which closes on Sundays on the same principle. They have a direct competitor - Michael's - that is open on Sundays. I have no sense of the how the financial health of Hobby Lobby is compared to the financial health of Michael's, but I suspect that Hobby Lobby seems to be financially stable despite the fact that they only do 6 days per week as opposed to 7. If I'm wrong about that, I hope someone can jump in an elaborate because I'd love to see a comparison and analysis of those two competitors.

My point here is that I'm not sold on this idea that the competitive leapfrogging on beginning the Black Friday sale as early if not early than competitors is necessary. In fact, there might be some marketing value to an operation in taking a principled stance that an operation is going to refuse to intrude upon employees' family time by demanding they work on holidays. It seems like that ought to be an easy sell to any demographic that purports to put "family values" as a top priority in decisionmaking.
posted by Dr. Zira at 1:38 AM on November 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


If I were in the states today, about ten of us would be lazing around the house, variously picking at leftovers, watching football, maybe playing a board game. In the afternoon a few of us might drive out to the lake and sit on the tailgate of the truck while my grandad tells us about what everything was like before they dammed the river in the 1930's. Over there, right off that bank, that's where Aunt Margaret lived. The foundation's still there, you can see it when the water's low.

Later that night, those of us who like a drink might head into town to the same pool hall that my parents and grandparents went to (though it didn't allow women until the 80s), and I'd feel weird about seeing people I went to high school with.

The fact that there are people who prefer waiting in line and buying whatever shit the stores decide to discount to a day like this, and the fact that there are people who would love a day like this but are forced to work instead, makes me really angry and really sad. Here in my adopted country, even the lowest grade of worker get nearly a month's worth of PAID holiday every year. PAID. When you start a job, the HR department tells you about the unions that operate in the industry and even ENCOURAGE you to join. A friend of mine who works in a hospital and sometimes has to work on holidays gets a day off in lieu plus overtime pay. Not one or the other, but both.

People sometimes ask me if I would move back to the states, and the answer has recently become "never".
posted by cilantro at 2:23 AM on November 25, 2011 [35 favorites]


US expats that come here to NL to work mention the better work-life balance as an advantage.
But some complain about shops closing at 18 hours or not being open on sunday.
Then of course I point out that the latter is a result of the former.
posted by joost de vries at 3:27 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had to sit through endless rantage by a couple knuckle-headed family members about how awful unions are

Same experience here. Fox News Thanksgiving talking points?


There needs to be a website that charts what they're talking about on Fox News so you know what's coming.

Also, I noticed something reading the fox news op-ed linked way at the top. The rich are consistently referred to as "financially successful". In other discussions where people are talking about the continued economic decline of America, I hear the phrase "the most fortunate among us". It's just interesting to me how such a small difference in word choice can affect the whole frame of the argument.
posted by heathkit at 4:15 AM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


to the people saying this is nothing new - when i was growing up in the 60's, it was practically unheard of for a business to be open on thanksgiving - and not that common on sunday, with a few necessary exceptions such as motels and a few gas stations

in fact, there were very few all night businesses either

the economy was better then than it was now - and i think our society was better off not being a 24/7 one

and the current attempt to roll back black friday to midnight isn't remarkable to me because it's callous and greedy (although it certainly IS that), as it's just plain desperate; the drowning lords of retail grasping at a last straw to keep from going under

overall, i think they're going to be pretty disappointed in the results
posted by pyramid termite at 4:26 AM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


So Bill O'Reilly is writing for the Mpls Star-Tribune?
posted by coldhotel at 4:34 AM on November 25, 2011


This is an OWS issue?

Imho, it might be an OW issue...

Walmart shopper in LA pepper-sprays rivals

Police hunt for 'competitive shopper' who attacked 20 others to keep them away from Black Friday sales bargains

posted by infini at 4:52 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


@underflow: The overtime clock being reset at midnight may be myth that's similar to the one propagated in Saskatchewan. The overtime clock (after eight hours of work) is only reset after 24 hours when the shift started. So if she started work at 4 PM, finished work at 8 PM, got then came back at midnight and work until 8 AM, then she would have 4 hours of overtime.
posted by DetriusXii at 4:54 AM on November 25, 2011


Rule of thumb: anyone who characterizes their opponents' position as "whining" is a scoundrel, who has no arguments, and who probably knows that they can't defend their ideas properly.
posted by thelonius at 4:58 AM on November 25, 2011 [19 favorites]


I worked it. It wasn't that bad.

Honestly, except for the fact that it killed a lot of peoples' Thanksgivings, including mine, I think employees and customers both prefer the midnight opening to 4AM (which is what it was last year). It's much easier for people to just stay up until midnight, which makes for a happier crowd that is easier to deal with, and employees are generally more alert.

I don't really know how sales will compare to previous years, but if I had to guess midnight is going to be something they will continue.

To answer earlier questions, all of the bigwigs who made these kind of decisions were either out and about checking up on things and admiring their work, or actively participating in the selling. They may have been snug in their beds before most employees were done, but c'mon, people. This is retail, and if they aren't paying attention to how it goes down they aren't doing their jobs.
posted by graventy at 5:08 AM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't believe that working shitty hours is not worthy of complaint among much greater injustices.

All injustices are worthy of complaint. If you only complain about the worst thing happening at a given moment then, if that never gets fixed, then nothing else will either. Plus, this was brought to our attention because someone was proactively saying they shouldn't complain -- responding to him is additionally valid.

This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices.

The problem isn't making small sacrifices (although it always seems to be the ones with the least power in a situation who end up having to make them). It's that it was put in such cold, transparently servile terms in a newspaper editorial. That the matter even should come up in that venue is silly; that the opinion offered is basically push the wheel around and maybe you won't get fired, is pretty reprehensible.

The gears of our economy turn because of a certain amount of grease. If you look hard at the employer-employee relationship, it starts to look rather unfair. Time was employers recognized this, and tried to smooth things over by trying to sand down the hard edge of the basic exploitative "do what we say and we throw you a few of our pennies" relationship. This guy doesn't seem to be trying to couch his argument at all; he seems to be reveling in the unfairness of the situation.
posted by JHarris at 5:15 AM on November 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Customers hit by pepper spray at Wal-Mart, by a woman who was "competitive shopping" on a Black Friday that started at 10 PM Thursday. Not the Onion.
posted by Houstonian at 5:25 AM on November 25, 2011


Ah, the 'you should be grateful' argument. Closely related to the 'you should be thankful that I'm even paying you', the 'I pulled myself up by own bootstraps and so should you', and the 'why are you crying? I barely even touched you!' arguments. Is there some box of evil where these are kept just to be pulled out by complete wankers on a ritual basis?
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:26 AM on November 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "You're a baby" isn't an argument, it's a playground taunt.

This is best remedied by the liberal application of meat drippings and chewy confections to the cranium and transportation of said cranium to the local maritime defense forces.
posted by dr_dank at 6:01 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


To answer earlier questions, all of the bigwigs who made these kind of decisions were either out and about checking up on things and admiring their work, or actively participating in the selling. They may have been snug in their beds before most employees were done, but c'mon, people. This is retail, and if they aren't paying attention to how it goes down they aren't doing their jobs.

The C-level executives of Target were not anywhere near a retail outlet at midnight. The largest shareholders weren't either.

When you read the literature from the labor movement early in the 20th Century, you'll see one thing in common to all of the demands they made: the opportunity to better themselves, including spending time with their family. The argument that people earning $9 per hour have nothing to complain about is irrational, because you cannot live on that amount of money and have real opportunities to better yourself. And I'm about to show you why.

At $9, working 40 hours a week, the take home pay with generous deductions is about $330 per week in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia. That's $1,375 per month, on average, without health insurance. In this town it's next to impossible to live without a car, so let's assume that it's $200 a month for purchase, repairs, and maintenance. An okay apartment in a slightly sketchy neighborhood is at least $500 per month including utilities. The average mileage driven by Americans is 15,000 miles, so let's say 10,000 in a small town at 20mpg is $175 per month in gas.

Right now what's left in their pocket, in an ideal situation with no debt and no extra expenses for things like medicine or cable TV or vacations, is $500 each month. Even if they're getting food stamps, we are expecting that person to make a life out of a margin of less than $20 per day. I know few people with that kind of self-discipline, and that doesn't include me.

How is that person expected to raise a child? To afford night classes, books, or a computer to educate themselves? What if they want to leave work to care for a sick family member, or even to take care of themselves if they are ill? What if their car breaks down? What if their refrigerator dies, or their washing machine ruins all of their work clothes? And what about people who have already had their jobs swept away so the C-level executives and shareholders could throw a few more million into their bank accounts who dare to call American workers lazy?

There are tens of millions of Americans in this situation, or in worse situations. They are looking towards a future full of employer abuse without a real chance of passing any wealth or opportunities on to their children. They are collectively beginning to realize that it would be better to gamble the nothing that they have currently for the chance at having a fulfilling life instead of graciously accepting their positions as the whipping boy for our sick, materialistic society.
posted by deanklear at 6:15 AM on November 25, 2011 [86 favorites]


Newspaper editorials in the United States typically reflect the view of the publisher of the newspaper. They're not supposed to be "independent journalism" in the first place.

Right. Sometimes they're just what the publisher and his rich buds laugh about on the golf course.
posted by mediareport at 6:23 AM on November 25, 2011


The shops shouldn't be open on holidays anyway.

As for the workers: strike. Rise up. Solidarity. Unions. Show some fucking mettle or quit complaining. Get used to the idea that bosses will exploit you as long and as far as you allow it. That's their nature. That's what they do. That's why they're bosses. So what are you going to do about it? Just whine and wait for the government to fix it out of the kindness of their hearts?
posted by Decani at 6:46 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The liberal media.

As I've said before, high unemployment isn't a problem, it's a solution. It's just not a solution for workers.
posted by Legomancer at 6:51 AM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


To answer earlier questions, all of the bigwigs who made these kind of decisions were either out and about checking up on things and admiring their work, or actively participating in the selling. They may have been snug in their beds before most employees were done, but c'mon, people. This is retail, and if they aren't paying attention to how it goes down they aren't doing their jobs.


Indeed: http://www.startribune.com/blogs/134474703.html
Gregg Steinhafel, Target's CEO, was at the Bloomington Target store and said he was feeling "pretty good" with the customer turnout. More than 1,500 people were lined up in front of the store for its 12 a.m. opening, up 300 people from last year.

"It seemed like people were out in overwhelming numbers," Steinhafel said. "Numbers I have not seen in a long time.

Does that mean Target will have a midnight opening next year?

"We will reassess at the end of the year," Steinhafel said. "We're not making any committments for next year right now."

Steinhafel was visiting the Bloomington Target store, as well as other locations with his family. He said he plans to also visit stores that compete with Target.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:54 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Show some fucking mettle or quit complaining.

Is there a nice version of "Fuck you, got mine?" Something like "I'm living paycheck to paycheck and really can't afford to rock the boat right now, but if you leave a message I'll get back to you as soon as I put another hour on my emergencies-only cell phone?"

For some, complaining is the only feasible outlet for their frustrations, and even that isn't precisely safe -- people have been fired over less. I hope you'll oblige those who don't meet your standards of fucking mettle-showing their apparently galling voices.
posted by lumensimus at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Meanwhile, here in Austria, the fourth negotiation session of the annual Kollektivvertragsverhandlungen (collective bargaining) for retail workers is scheduled to begin next week. There are some very important issues this year, such as how parental leave times should be counted towards promotions by seniority, and whether the special payments (13th and 14th salary) should be moved forward by one month. And as always, the salaries themselves are a big topic; the unions want an increase of 4.2 percent, but the federal economic chamber offers only 2.9 percent. Now the workers threaten to collect signatures from shoppers and to call an assembly. Absolutely nobody is talking about the mandatory closing times (early mornings, Sundays and holidays), the 30–36 vacation days and the 38.5 hour work week – they are a given.

Like many other leftists, I regularly criticize how untransparent and party-political our collective bargaining system is. When I read things like this, I simultaneously feel really sad that there are first-world countries that haven’t figured this stuff out yet – and where a newspaper feels it is acceptable to attack people like Mr. Hardwick – and really happy that Austrians are able to complain at such a high level.
posted by wachhundfisch at 7:11 AM on November 25, 2011 [24 favorites]


There is still a significant portion of the US that is super annoyed it can't have slaves.
posted by The Whelk at 7:14 AM on November 25, 2011 [29 favorites]


This issue is a symptom of a greater disease. It makes us appear weak to complain about making small sacrifices.

"Tomorrow you start work at 12:01 AM. No, you don't get paid extra. If you don't comply, you're fired."

That's not a "small sacrifice" by any stretch of the imagination. Why you can't recognize this is still very unclear.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 AM on November 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


The number of people complaining that they have to work at midnight is very few especially as a percentage. There are far more that don't have to work that are complaining on the behalf of the retail employees who are being made to work.

Did you listen to the radio? Watch tv? Read the paper? Go to the gas station? Go out to eat? Used the phone? Go to any of 1000's of other businesses open? Are you also complaining that those employees are working on Thanksgiving?

The businesses are open because there are buyers looking to spend their money. Pure and simple. Think what you want about commercialism, capitalism, or whatever but the public is the cause for the stores being open. And the vast majority of the employees are not upset.

Now none of the above justifies such a article accusing people of whining and being told "you're lucky to have a job, now shut up." It is quite possible to discuss the situation and their concerns without resorting to "i'm your father, that's why" type of response.
posted by 2manyusernames at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2011


2manyusernames, most people who work on Thanksgiving get paid extra, and knew when they took the job they would have to work holidays. That isn't the case for many retail workers.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:39 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The businesses are open because there are buyers looking to spend their money. Pure and simple. Think what you want about commercialism, capitalism, or whatever but the public is the cause for the stores being open. And the vast majority of the employees are not upset.

Well, I think it's more nuanced than that. It's not like there's a big demographic of people desperately wanting to shop in the early hours of the morning and retailers are scrambling to address that untapped market. The consumers are looking to save some money and this charade just shows what they are willing to do to save a couple-few dollars.

Underlying Black Friday is the notion that these are the best prices you will see this holiday season and you have a bunch of presumably budget-conscious consumers willing to jump through hoops to save a buck because they are pinched. If it means shopping at some unGodly hour in a madhouse, apparently it is worth it.

So the consumer jumps through hoops to save a buck. The workers jump through hoops to keep their jobs. The businesses set up these hoops to try to be the first to capture a limited amount of dollars. Nobody wants to do what they're doing, but they have no choice. It's some sick feedback loop that gets more ridiculous each year.

The whole thing is desperate and kind of depressing.
posted by mazola at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


Go to any of 1000's of other businesses open? Are you also complaining that those employees are working on Thanksgiving?

One, I doubt if these businesses number in the thousands, even if we're discussing a small-to-midsize city. Two, their workers are often paid time-and-a-half (or double-time, or more), and given special benefits. Three, their circadian clock is set on the graveyard shift so they're not bleery-eyed zombies. Four, they don't work a daytime shift previous to the 12:01 am shift like the Target-employed daughter of the Mefite upthread. Five, their spouses and families are adjusted to this schedule, and make preparations in advance for it, often including a separate Thanksgiving or Christmas celebration. Six . . . oh, just fuck it.
posted by Gordion Knott at 8:01 AM on November 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well said, Mr. Kane.
posted by TedW at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2011


In Porter Ranch, a woman pepper sprayed customers at a Wal-Mart in what authorities say was a deliberate attempt to get more "door buster" merchandise.

Sixth generation warfare being invented before our eyes. Very sad day for the fine citizens of Porter Ranch CA who just got themselves on many of our mental maps for the first time ever. I will save some of you all some google mapping--it's on the I-5 a few miles north of Beverly Hills.
posted by bukvich at 8:09 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a nice version of "Fuck you, got mine?" Something like "I'm living paycheck to paycheck and really can't afford to rock the boat right now, but if you leave a message I'll get back to you as soon as I put another hour on my emergencies-only cell phone?"

Oh Lord, but we've got country pride /
Simply because we were able to escape starvation in the richest nation in the history of the world

posted by FatherDagon at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


> So the consumer jumps through hoops to save a buck. The workers jump through hoops to keep their jobs. The businesses set up these hoops to try to be the first to capture a limited amount of dollars. Nobody wants to do what they're doing, but they have no choice. It's some sick feedback loop that gets more ridiculous each year.

The whole thing is desperate and kind of depressing.


I agree with everything you said except the "kind of" part.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The real people who need to be vomited on won't be tucked away in bed while all of this is going on. They'll be clawing their way to game consoles, and TVs at unbelievable prices. posted by 2N2222 at 10:05 PM on 11/24

Very true. But it still stands, please don't go 'puking' on my fiance or any of her retail coworkers, this whole mess isn't their fault. They're just victims of the system.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're starting Black Friday sales up here in Canada. I mean, its just a regular work day in a regular work week, but even though its my Oma's birthday tomorrow, and I have to get her something (and haven't all week because I have been really, awfully sick), I won't be getting her anything today. Because fuck it, I'm not encouraging these people.

(I can get her flowers tomorrow, and some hand creme, because she doesn't need more "stuff" that's for sure)
posted by sandraregina at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately, I did not get a sense for the bad conditions you speak of, which everyone can agree are different from just bad hours, and would definitely change the nature and magnitude of the injustice.

I get the impression that you've never worked retail.

Let me explain what happens in the run up to this Black Friday nonsense. First, for the four to six weeks prior to the day, your hours get thrown cattywampus everywhere, with requirements to work overnight shifts to do resets in stores that don't ordinarily run an overnight crew, and early morning shifts as well. If you cannot make the sudden shift in scheduling work, you're fired. Can't find child care to deal with the sudden upheaval? Too bad. Sudden schedule change conflicts with your other job? Tough. Have to choose between classes (if you're a college student) and keeping your job? Too bad. Got into a car accident on the way to work during "blackout" weeks? Tough shit. Be grateful you have a job, and you'd better be prepared to kiss ass and work yourself to death to keep it, six days a week until the week after New Year's, when you get to chew your nails and hope that you still have a job after the "oh no, we're not raking in trucks of cash, time to cut payroll!" panic starts.

You'll work til after Midnight the night before Thanksgiving. You'll be too tired to be of any company for Thanksgiving dinner, and too stressed out because you'll need to squeeze in a nap before going back to work at 11PM because your store is opening at Midnight, and you're REQUIRED to work on Black Friday, even if you're dead. Then you get to work a 12 - 15 hour shift where people are fighting over crap they could have picked up for the same price a few weeks ago, when the items were in stock and not some "limited supply door buster special". You get to be screamed at, pushed around, and even physically assaulted, all for the princely sum of $8 an hour - if you're "lucky". This will continue throughout the "Holiday Sales", and they'll even keep you late on Christmas Eve to squeeze every last penny they can.

"Small sacrifice"? No. Huge pile of bullshit, more like.
posted by MissySedai at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2011 [41 favorites]


Gregg Steinhafel, Target's CEO, was at the Bloomington Target store a...for its 12 a.m. opening,

You know , for 13 million a year I wouldn't mind staying up past midnight one night a year for some good P.R.

For 9 dollars an hour, 33 hours a week and no health insurance - not so much.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2011 [14 favorites]


Shootings, pepper-spray attack mar Wal-Mart Black Friday sales Employees shouldn't have to put up with this, that's for sure.
posted by agregoli at 9:26 AM on November 25, 2011


"Easy" solution: put the one-off madness sale working hours up for bid. I'm sure there are employees who will be delighted to take extra pay for extra hours.

All holy days should also be open to anyone that cares to work them, and those who are religious should be able to take them off.

9-5 M-F is a stupid way to use resources. All that inventory, floor space, security, logistics — it's all costing 24/7. There are good reasons to not be open (a dearth of 4AM shoppers). Not being open on Sunday or Hannukah or Easter? That's just dumb planning.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Black Friday retail stupidity (stampeding, macing, etc) is, alas, more accurately representative of the 99% than is OWS, sad to say.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want to know how many of those sidewalk-blocking campers were pepper-sprayed and arrested. It's not OK to block a sidewalk no matter how just your cause, right?
posted by KathrynT at 10:16 AM on November 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


I get the impression that you've never worked retail.

Good lord! I get the impression that you've only worked incredibly shitty retail. Maybe it is that bad at a lot of places, but not everywhere.

Feel free to hyperbolize away, however, as this is apparently a good ol' fashioned sympathy thread for the downtrodden and hate-on for corporations.
posted by graventy at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't forget Target was also the company that gave great campaign donations to the anti-gay "wait staff make great money" Republican Governor candidate in Minnesota last cycle.
posted by edgeways at 10:33 AM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


The thing that seems especially dumb to me about this is that all of these chains are the ones that have online stores... so they could have offered all of the same deals online starting at the appointed hour to ensure a rush, the computer systems could have taken the orders and queued them up, and the picking and shipping people could have sent it all off when they get back from a few days off for the holiday.
posted by XMLicious at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was hoping enough people would be annoyed at this that they wouldn't come in and this would be a big bust. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YEAH RIGHT NOW THIS IS GONNA BE MANDATORY FOR ETERNITY.

Dammit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:22 AM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]



The thing that seems especially dumb to me about this is that all of these chains are the ones that have online stores... so they could have offered all of the same deals online starting at the appointed hour to ensure a rush, the computer systems could have taken the orders and queued them up, and the picking and shipping people could have sent it all off when they get back from a few days off for the holiday.


For many of these places, that would be like a self inflicted DOS attack.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2011


they could have offered all of the same deals online starting at the appointed hour to ensure a rush

I saw someone complain on FB last night that Target's web site had gone down while they were trying to get a Black Friday (Thursday) deal. So apparently they already are doing some of that and it is working as a self-inflicted DOS attack.
posted by immlass at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2011


I'm glad I have a job. I provide work in return for pay. I like having health insurance. My employer is lucky to have an intelligent, hard-working employee. It's a fair deal.

I'll bet they didn't get holiday pay, because the holiday ends at midnight.

Don't shop the crazy Black Friday openings. Sooner or later, some retailer will smarten up, and offer a sale on Black Friday Night We respect our employees' wishes to be with their families on Thanksgiving, so our special sale prices will start at 9 p.m. Friday, till midnight, and Saturday, 7 a.m. till 10. We welcome shoppers who want a great deal, but not at the expense of our dedicated, hard-working staff. The Black Friday gimmick only works because people shop it.
posted by theora55 at 11:50 AM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


You'll get a lot further organizing the workers than the consumers.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:55 AM on November 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Paul Krugman: We Are the 99.9%
posted by homunculus at 12:04 PM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


The police are trying to find the Wal-mart pepper sprayer? Pfft, it's essentially a food product.
posted by manguero at 12:20 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


For many of these places, that would be like a self inflicted DOS attack.

So apparently they already are doing some of that and it is working as a self-inflicted DOS attack.

Yeah, but there's all kinds of ways you can prepare for that using CDNs and especially with the kind of cloud computing resources that are available these days.

If you go to a football team's web site during the Superbowl you're probably looking at content and applications served from temporarily-rented infrastructure all over the place, for example. If these retailers are having problems it's either because they didn't want to invest in preparations or some executive screwed up an IT project to provision or scale their systems.
posted by XMLicious at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2011


The Black Friday retail stupidity (stampeding, macing, etc) is, alas, more accurately representative of the 99% than is OWS, sad to say.

You can make these kind of statements in infinite variety to undercut any populist movement; when you throw in with the majority, you also get your majority share of bad behaviors (at least those not confined to the minority). What is powerful about the framing of the OWS/99% position is that it doesn't rely on judgements of who makes up the 99%, or the 1% -- no need to grouse about greedy bankers, or influence-peddling kleptocrats (although it's satisfying); anyway, it just invites the opposition to construct equally pointless strawmen like welfare queens and playing-at-camp trustafarians, and then conveniently everybody gets to argue past each other and nothing changes. The strength of the 99% position is factual; the recent evolution of this country has been that wealth is being increasing concentrated in the hands of a very few, that money is increasingly able to sway politicians and votes, that efforts to combat the influence on money in politics are losing on every possible front, that real purchasing power of the vast majority of Americans is declining, that middle class jobs are leaving this country and being replaced in large part by ones that don't pay a living wage, and this collectively represents the death of the American dream.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


"There is still a significant portion of the US that is super annoyed it can't have slaves."

How come nobody ever talks about all the great plantation meals that slaves got?
posted by klangklangston at 1:55 PM on November 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


How come nobody ever talks about all the great plantation meals that slaves got?

Oh, they do, they do. It is usually followed by a discussion of how many slaves were just like family. Except for the bit where they were slaves.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:03 PM on November 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Black Friday retail stupidity (stampeding, macing, etc) is, alas, more accurately representative of the 99% than is OWS, sad to say.

data point - although there were protests against wall street and the banks fairly frequently here in kalamazoo, i've only seen one group of people camped overnight since OWS started - that was last night, at best buy

they did not seem to be protesting anything

For three days starting on Black Friday, 152 million people are expected to shop, up about 10 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

that's about 50% of the population right there

how many people do the 99% have showing up?

oh and ...

On Thanksgiving night, a Walmart in Los Angeles brought out a crate of discounted Xboxes, and as a crowd waited for the video game players to be unwrapped, a woman fired pepper spray at the other shoppers "in order to get an advantage," police said.

mrs pike, i presume - "honey, i'm going shopping - can i borrow your pepper spray?"
posted by pyramid termite at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


At $9, working 40 hours a week, the take home pay with generous deductions is about $330 per week in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia.

What, you're stuck here too?
posted by JHarris at 3:44 PM on November 25, 2011


That's all true, Eddy.

Also, change isn't going to happen if a lot more people demand change.

When half the population gets suckered into the Back Friday carnival, "a lot more change" is not on the menu.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:06 PM on November 25, 2011


There's at least one editorial "writer" who should feel lucky to have a job. Not only is a sentence like "Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples . . ." crap writing, but "forgoing" is spelled wrong.
posted by Camofrog at 4:45 PM on November 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, change isn't going to happen if [unless?] a lot more people demand change.

Yep, I agree with that. As much as some might wish it different, the fire and energy of OWS is stilled dwarfed by the power of the thundering herd that takes the streets on Black Friday, and that force is not advocating for change... that's why I zeroed in one your earlier comment, because it hit a nerve.

But here's the twist -- why the sales frenzy? Maybe because everyone is desperate to avoid downsizing Christmas, loathe to confront the reality that we are mostly poorer than we once were, more saddled with debt, less able to afford the things we want. We shop sales and mace and trample each other because we're trying to stretch less money farther (and we're bastards), and we're desperate to feel prosperous. By and large the people out there shopping at midnight are not the ones winning in this economy.
posted by eddydamascene at 4:46 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good lord! I get the impression that you've only worked incredibly shitty retail. Maybe it is that bad at a lot of places, but not everywhere.

I worked exactly ONE retail Christmas, when I was in college. It was a rather upscale retailer, too, one with a reputation for being a good place to work. I suppose it was - the management was nice enough - but what I described happened there, too. And it sucked, and I determined I would rather eat broken glass - or work 85 hours a week between three contract positions - than deal with that shit ever again, because the next time a customer laid hands on me, I was going to jail for murder. Jesus christ, I got treated better in the restaurant sector, and that was hard, hot, filthy work.

My husband has been in retail for more than 25 years - 20 years in management - and it wasn't until 5 years ago, when he got out of "big box" retail and large national chains, that he didn't have to deal with that mess any more. But dude, make no mistake, what I've described is the NORM. They even do that shit at OFFICEMAX, for the love of fuck. One company he worked for did it for Halloween, too, and boy howdy did I HATE the period from August 1st to November 1st. The general public is largely made up of assholes.

These days he works in the health supplement industry. His shop doesn't have extended holiday hours, no ridiculous overnight shifts, no Black Friday bullshit, and a company policy of actual give-a-damn for the well-being of their employees. It's...refreshing. And since there's no mandatory Black Friday bullshit, he starts his vacation on Thanksgiving and doesn't have to go back til the first Monday of December. It's nice that we get to have him for the holidays now - awake and happy, not exhausted and zombified. And his store does just as well as everyone else, minus all the idiocy.

Feel free to hyperbolize away, however, as this is apparently a good ol' fashioned sympathy thread for the downtrodden and hate-on for corporations.

Bawww, the poor widdwe corporations! How terrible for them that people would like to be treated like human beings! I should be ashamed of myself for criticizing them, yes? Yeah, no. Fuck 'em.

The people I hold contracts with treat me and my family far better than any corporation ever has. I work more, and for a little less money than a W-2 employee, but when I want to park my ass at the table with my family and friends for things like holidays and even my birthday, they tell me "Have fun, enjoy your time off, don't drink too much wine, we'll see you when you get back!", no groveling or fear required.
posted by MissySedai at 6:04 PM on November 25, 2011 [11 favorites]


Don't shop the crazy Black Friday openings. Sooner or later, some retailer will smarten up, and offer a sale on Black Friday Night We respect our employees' wishes to be with their families on Thanksgiving, so our special sale prices will start at 9 p.m. Friday, till midnight, and Saturday, 7 a.m. till 10. We welcome shoppers who want a great deal, but not at the expense of our dedicated, hard-working staff. The Black Friday gimmick only works because people shop it.

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS!

We don't do Black Friday. Instead, we sleep off our turkey coma, have a lazy breakfast, have friends and family over to play video games and eat leftovers, and usually get a start on putting up the Dickens Village and the outside lights. If we find that we have to go to, say, the grocery store for milk or cat food, we take candy to our cashier. If we go out for dinner, as we did tonight to a favorite Mexican joint, we tip extra. Lots of people are extra special assholey to their service peeps on Black Friday, and we won't be party to that.
posted by MissySedai at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I heard "Minneapolis" and "Target", I immediately thought that this thing must have been the work of James Lileks, but it turns out that the Strib cut his column in '07 and stopped updating buzz.mn (where he'd been an editor) in '09. Obviously, I missed him terribly.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2011


The Whelk: "There is still a significant portion of the US that is super annoyed it can't have slaves"

If I thought I was a good enough writer, I would try to do a Swiftian take on slavery; because if companies thought they could get away with debtors "contracts", corporations would have recruiters on the streets tomorrow.
posted by dejah420 at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a broad perspective to bring to this - one in which owners of businesses see workers as interchangeable parts, and do not need to consider them as complete beings with full lives making a fair trade of labor for compensation, but have the power to dictate the terms of employment knowing full well the workers do not have the security to negotiate more favorable terms for themselvs. That's the same deal whether it's working extreme hours non-voluntarily on the only holiday all Americans celebrate, or whether it's being laid off, taking a pay cut, taking on a bigger job description, losing your benefits or retirement acccount, working longer for less, or any other tactic the owner/shareholder class decides it wants to employ to increase profitability or reduce liability.

That's why this is all the same, working crazy retail hours or losing your retirement income - if there were some kind of even playing field where workers could securely negotiate the work they were willing and able to do for a fair wage with an employer who needed to meet them halfway in order to hire a capable staff, it would indeed be fair to say "you pays your money, you makes your choice" and chalk it up to "hey, that's retail." But that's not the situation we have. Retail employees are often not there by choice or aspiration or voluntarily, but because it's the only, the best job they can find in this miserable climate, even though most such jobs pay well below a living wage and offer no benefits or potential for advancement. These workers know they are not in a position to negotiate or refuse, because alternative jobs are not readily available. Their hand is being forced. The employers know this too, which is why it is fair to consider this somewhat 'evil' - they have calculated the risk vs. benefit and understand that the potential gain for shareholders is, they believe, greater than the potential loss of goodwill or a few employees. Knowing their strategic advantage as they do, and recognizing that workers, as presently organized, do not have the strength or security to oppose them, gives them carte blanche. This is really no different than mass layoffs of middle managers in professional industries. This exploits the same profound disadvantage inherent in the fact that currently, there are many more capable workers than jobs. When this is the reality, employers can demand almost anything they want - they really can - because workers are disposable, interchangeable, and abundant.

Police, nurses, firefighters and so on certainly understand themselves as 'essential workers' and knew, entering their professions, that their calling meant they'd have a different approach to a working schedule than other fields might. Not only, as some have pointed out, are these professions often unionized to the point that working overnights or holidays can have significant financial rewards or in-demand enough skilled enough and well represented enough (as with nurses) to essentially name the price of their labor, but also, these jobs are careers. Professions. For their sacrifices of personal time, these employees are compensated well and have the opportunity to grow in their jobs, add to their training, provide for themselves and families and enjoy the dignity and respect people whose work serves the greater good should enjoy. Retail employees, on the other hand, have none of this. They are not as highly skilled, and so they are much more interchangeable than professional public service workers. They cannot name the price of their labor, because there will always be someone equally skilled and more desperate waiting for their job. They are not well compensated for their sacrifices. And they don't enjoy the dignity and respect afforded to public service workers. So, though some may suck it up and decide any job is better than no job, their decision to do so is definitely not on par with the decisionmaking of the service professional or owner class (such as a gas station owner who chooses to open on a holiday). These decisions are those of desperation, of choosing the less bad of two bad options, not those of a person doing a cost/benefit analysis and finding that their interests are well met by their employment agreements. That's a really false comparison, and by looking at it carefully we can see how the retail employee group has probably become the easiest to exploit, and most dispensable class of workers of all. But the fact that workers - across the board - are at tremendous disadvantage in a jobless ecconomy means that employers have all the advantage, and can dictate the terms, take them or leave them, even if they are exploitive, unfair, unnecessary, unproductive, and callous. And that's as true for the insurance company claims adjuster, software developer, outside sales manager, programmer, copyeditor, , nonprofit worker, and IT support technician as it is for cashiers, clerks, stockers, "associates," and greeters.
posted by Miko at 8:21 PM on November 25, 2011 [76 favorites]


Miko, reading that makes me want to kiss you full on the mouth.
posted by klangklangston at 8:31 PM on November 25, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sigh.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 12:23 AM on November 26, 2011


We celebrate something we call the AntiChristmas. We completely avoid all retail environments (unless unavoidable, such as grocery) during the month of December. Then, in January, we buy the few things that we actually need at insane post-holiday discounts.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:48 AM on November 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Feel free to hyperbolize away, however, as this is apparently a good ol' fashioned sympathy thread for the downtrodden and hate-on for corporations.

Should we feel bad for feeling sympathy for the downtrodden? Should we not hate organizations that treat people unjustly?

You talk as if those are bad things...

What you are probably attempting to imply, is that we are you are somehow an isolated victim speaking truth to power. Conservatives, in my experience, do this an awful lot - they seem to think it makes them look brave and intellectually substantial.

The problem is, it only makes you look that way if you actually are standing up for something moral or genuinely trying to explain something complex to people who won't listen. If you are, in fact, just representing the interests of the powerful and your arguments are little more than veiled insults (sometimes, as here, insults that are very thinly veiled indeed)... well, I think that the kindest thing that can be said about you is that you look like a rather stupid person recycling arguments that other, cleverer, nastier people taught you.
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:49 AM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I actually find this article heartening, because it means that the higher ups at Target are afraid of people like Anthony Hardwick. He has shown them just how easy it is to organize people and get signatures. To respond with some vague threat of "be grateful you have a job!" means "please don't organize, please don't organize!" Too late, Target. They already did, and set an example for millions of other people.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:24 AM on November 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Miko, reading that makes me want to kiss you full on the mouth.

Klang, reading that makes me want to whip out a camera made from union shop.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:18 AM on November 26, 2011


They'd be skewered by the shareholders if they let Walmart beat them for sales during the Black Friday shopapalooza. Possibly they are in a position to make a principled stance, and for all we know maybe some of them do. But unless profits show that being nice pays dividends to the shareholders, they simply will not be nice. Or rather, they will be exactly as nice as they need to be, and then strive to be just a little less nice all the time, at least so far as it involves $$$.

Ian1977, I and several other members of my family ARE TGT shareholders and we are completely disgusted by this. We joined with investment companies to protest the teabagger donation at the shareholder meeting this past year and I am sure there will be a proposal to change the Black Friday policy at the next one.
posted by brujita at 4:49 AM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do I think that requiring employees to work late within the law to maximize profits on the holidays makes a company an evil empire? No.

I guess this is the root of the issue, here. Look at the history of labor from the Great Depression until now, and it has mostly been an upward trend of people working to create better conditions, reasonable and predictable work hours, and secure employment. The last few years has quickly been swinging the other way to temporary work, random hours and crappier conditions. This causes all sorts of negative effects for the whole economy, not just the lowest rung on the ladder.

It's not even about good vs. evil. It's about human decency, and having that decency be embedded in the fabric of our labor laws.

"Maximizing profits" is about the worst goal a person can have, for everyone involved.
posted by lubujackson at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


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