Give workers a break on Thanksgiving

Employers should allow workers to stay home with their families on Thanksgiving. Photo: A family Thanksgiving (public)

WASHINGTON, November 24, 2013 — Years ago, just about everything other than gas stations and bakeries were closed on Thanksgiving. This allowed for this purely American holiday to be one of the few days when all Americans celebrated together with some type of family gathering.

But a couple of years ago, a crack in the door was opened when some of the Big-Box retailers sought to get a leg up on the competition by opening for just a few hours on Thanksgiving.  These conglomerates quickly realized that the small Mom & Pop stores on Main Street, which wouldn’t open their doors until Black Friday,  just couldn’t compete.

While the CEO’s stayed home with their families, their laborers earning minimum wage or slightly above were being forced to work and forfeit possibly the one day they might  have together with the whole family. 

It is not enough to say that they were given bonuses to work that day.  While this might have started off as a purely voluntary venture, it has now become mandatory for many of these low-end workers who usually have no union to protect them. 

Now the Big-Box Stores are taking it to the next extreme, opening in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving, just as they had traditionally done on Black Friday. So, not only are these workers losing their holiday, but the stores on Main Street get further pummeled by the behemoths.

Some argue that workers have a choice whether to work on holidays or not. But what is the choice? Stay away from your family or get fired? 

Workes used to have off Sundays because of Blue Laws that kept businesses closed on Sunday. 

The world has changed significantly and it is illogical to think that we would ever go back to the Blue Law days  — nor would we want to. But isn’t there just one day of the year where we can say “let’s give it a rest?” 

Even those who oppose government intrusion can support efforts to make sure that what made Thanksgiving special – time with our families – remains special. It is time to level the playing field by prohibiting these Box Store from putting our local Mom & Pops at a competitive disadvantage and spoiling what was once a unifying national experience.



Steve Levy is President of Common Sense Strategies, a political and business consulting firm. He served as Suffolk County Executive  2004-2011, and as a NYS Assemblyman


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Steve Levy

Steve Levy joins Communities as a poltical writer after serving as state and county legislator, and candidate for Governor of New York State, Steve Levy served as County Executive of Suffolk County, New York from 2004-2011.  Presently, Steve Levy is a political commentator and a strategist assisting candidates for elective office.


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