Employees protest Thanksgiving shopping hours

Employees want better benefits, time with their family during holidays

Published On: Nov 20 2012 06:07:00 AM EST   Updated On: Nov 20 2012 10:28:03 AM EST
Black Friday shopping
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Two growing movements are threatening to throw a wrench into Black Thursday shopping just two days before the doors are set to open.

Both Walmart and Target plan on opening early Thanksgiving night. But the question is, will it be with added backlash?

Walmart employees are planning to picket, complaining of low wages and poor health care benefits.

At Target, a petition with 350,000 signatures is circulating from employees who want time off on the holidays.

"I think it's greed capitalism," said Terry Buckenmeyer, of the IWW Union. "It's just putting profits before people."

Buckenmeyer is talking about a growing grumble from employees of big-box retailers who plan on using the Black Friday shopping season against the place that they work.

Buckenmeyer said Walmart employees plan to picket the superstore on Black Friday, complaining of inadequate health care and low wages.

The picket coincides with the timing of Target employees Black Thursday gripe. They want to spend time with their families.

"I think it's ridiculous," shopper Cheryl Rosenberger said. "I think shopping on Thursday, absolutely ridiculous."

"I talked with Walmart employees in Orlando," Buckenmeyer said. "They're kind of coordinating these and a lot of them have been called to work to stock shelves because the first Walmart sale is Thursday at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, interrupting plans with their family.

Buckenmeyer said more and more workers are pushing back against corporate America.

For Target employees, it's in the form of a petition with now more than 350,000 signatures. Addressed to the CEO, it says, "Opening at 9 p.m. disgusts me and symbolizes everything that is wrong with this country. Give Thanksgiving back to the families."

"I think honestly that's insane," shopper Bethany Morehouse said. "I'm not big into crowds. It's honestly insane."

Target fired back saying, "We reached out to all our store leaders and asked them to find volunteers to work. Employees will receive time-and-a-half pay and there is no corporate policy mandating that they work."

Buckenmeyer said his union's complaints against Walmart focus more on employee respect, but some said the theme driving force is one in the same.

"Your boss could be the nicest guy in the world, but when you walk into work and it comes down to his bonus or your happiness, you know which one is going to win," Buckenmeyer said.