Kmart is reportedly giving some of its employees a tough choice for the upcoming holiday — either come in to work on Thanksgiving or be fired.
The retail chain is one of many coming under fire for creeping the traditional Black Friday 2014 sales into Thanksgiving itself. The store will open at 6 a.m. on Thursday and remain open for 42 hours, leaving stores strapped for employees and often denying requests for time off.
The controversy over Kmart’s Thanksgiving hours was made public thanks to Jillian Fisher, who started a petition on Coworker.org calling on Kmart to give its employees time off to spend with family.
Fisher also collected information from Kmart workers nationwide, who told her that management was forcing them to work on the holiday. One employee claimed that the store’s human resources department told employees, “if you do not come to work on Thanksgiving, you will automatically be fired … I made the request to work a split shift on Thanksgiving and was denied.”
“I am a lead at a Kmart and it is mandatory for me to work on Thanksgiving,” another Kmart worker noted. “If I were to call out I would be terminated, and requesting off is not allowed.”
Fisher said she understands that some employees need the money the will make from working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, but said Kmart should give the ones who want to stay home with family the option to do so.
“Kmart covers its shameless act of greed by stating that it is giving its employees more time to make money,” she wrote. “Kmart: have you even talked to your employees about your holiday hours and what they will be required to work? The answer is no. We are almost 2 weeks away from Kmart stores being open 42 hours straight, and employees — even after asking management about what hours they will be required to work — still have not received information about their schedules during this time.”
Like other retailers, Kmart is falling back on an excuse that the extended holiday hours are simply a response to consumer demand.
“This holiday season is all about giving more to our members and because many like to start shopping well before Black Friday, we’re excited to open our doors early on Thanksgiving and offer other early access opportunities for them to shop and save,” said Leena Munjal, senior vice president of Sears Holdings, the parent company of both Kmart and Sears, which merged in 2005.
Fisher said she plans to keep up the protest against Kmart until the retailer agrees to give employees the option to take off on Thanksgiving without being fired.
From Huff Po:
By Carol Joyner
As a student at University of Minnesota-Duluth, Cantare Davunt graduated with a bachelor's degree in international studies. As a Walmart associate, she's an activist fighting for decent wages, full-time hours, predictable schedules and dignity at work.
Like many college graduates working in the new "Walmart Economy," Cantare earns $10.10 per hour -- about $322 a week. She lives paycheck to paycheck, and has to make near-impossible choices each month between buying enough food, covering her share of rent, or paying off her student loans. In the summer, she forgoes electricity. Other months, it's her cellphone bill. This August, her car was repossessed. "Minnesota's a hard place to get ahead without a car," she said recently.
Cantare told her story at a recent Senate briefing hosted by Senator Warren (D-MA) and Representative Miller (D-CA), where elected officials described the growing crisis of inequality in the U.S. and offered different solutions to turn the tide. As Sen. Warren said: "We need to give workers this chance by raising the minimum wage, providing some basic fairness in scheduling, and fighting for equal pay for equal work."
Why did the briefing single out Walmart?
Because as one of the richest corporations in the world, with profits of $16 billion annually and 1.4 million employees, it represents a class of corporations that earn record sums while their employees can't make ends meet. By shear volume and wealth, Walmart sets a standard in our society. The workers who help Walmart make unimaginable profits in turn receive poverty wages, unaffordable health care and irregular schedules, including hours kept at part-time as a way of denying access to paid sick days.
Consumers should not have to subsidize Walmart and the "Walmart Economy" either. But we do -- to the tune of nearly $8 billion a year in taxpayer-funded assistance for food, health care, and housing for Walmart employees. The Walton's -- the richest family in the country who own and run Walmart -- add $8.6 million to their $150 billion wealth every day. And yet hundreds of millions of Americans subsidize their luxuries while the family robs workers of a decent living.
OUR Walmart leaders are standing up for all American families who are struggling to do more with less, and ar
Or the Schedules That Work Act, which would help give all of us a greater voice on the job. Walmart associates -- like many others -- are victims to last minute, unpredictable schedules; are punished or terminated when they request more hours; and find it nearly impossible to secure childcare, attend classes to better themselves and find time to organize their lives -- all while frequently juggling multiple jobs. This legislation would establish a process for discussing work schedules between employees and employers, and protect workers from retaliation when they request a different schedule.
Lastly, there's the Paycheck Fairness Act. Like most women, it pains me to talk about continuing pay discrimination across gender and racial lines, something that should have been resolved decades ago. The Paycheck Fairness Act would help close the gaps that exist from the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and if passed, bring an end to pay secrecy and protect workers who discuss their wages on the job.
So here we are. An economy still tepid in recovery, mired in precarious work situations and stagnant wages. Corporations and CEOs who enjoy record-breaking profits. Economists who continue to cite inequality as a hindrance to economic growth. And low-wage workers, emboldened and inspired by recent victories for working families, whose movement for $15 an hour and fair workplaces continues to grow at unprecedented pace.
Next week, Walmart workers will protest at more than 1,600 stores, marking the third consecutive year of Black Friday protests. We know these protests matter. They've captured the attention of lawmakers; they've gained the support of the American public; and they've forced Walmart to raise wages and improve policies, no matter how hard the company refuses to change.
That's why I'll be joining Walmart workers this Black Friday. I'll gather up my turkey-filled friends and relatives and visit my nearest Walmart. I'll stand outside in solidarity with workers, do some chanting and maybe take some selfies, deliver a memo to the store manager, and contribute to building a fair economy -- for us all.
For workers like Cantare, I encourage you to join as well.
COLMA, Calif. (KABC) --
A woman says she was attacked outside a Bay Area department store after she asked another woman to quiet her child.
The incident was captured on surveillance video.
The woman says she was in the checkout line at a Nordstrom Rack store when a young child started throwing a tantrum on Monday.
The woman says she asked the child's mother -- politely, she says -- to do something.
The two women got into a verbal altercation there in the store.
"She came to the side of me and told me not to tell her child what to do, and I told her that 'I didn't tell your child what to do, I asked you very nicely to calm down your child,'" said Natalie Bree Hajek-Richardson. "I told her to go to hell, and she told me I'll see you there."
She says the woman followed her out to the parking lot and punched her twice in the face.
Police are looking at the surveillance video to see if they can identify the other woman.
UPDATE: Nov. 4 -- Like many teenage heartthrobs, Alex from Target may be too good to be true. He is from Target, but it appears his image didn't became a viral sensation by chance.
The CEO of a marketing company called Breakr is claiming to have engineered the whole Alex from Target phenomenon as "a way to see how powerful the fangirl demographic was," according to a post on LinkedIn.
Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares, Breakr's CEO, wrote on LinkedIn that one of the company's "fangirls" who lives in the United Kingdom posted Alex's photo on Twitter and the company -- which claims to help connect "fans to their fandom" -- encouraged the other fangirls to share Alex's photo using the #AlexFromTarget hashtag. The company doesn't specify whether the fangirls are paid or just devoted followers.
"Truly, we never thought it'd go this far, but it proved that with a strong fan base and rally the fangirls, you can," Leonares told Cnet.
Target, which initially embraced Alex's new-found fame on Monday, says it wasn't in on the gag. The company released a statement Tuesday night, emphasizing that the company has no affiliation with Breakr and that the retailer "had absolutely nothing to do with the creation, listing or distribution of the photo."
"We value Alex as a team member and from the first moment we saw this photo beginning to circulate, we shared that the Target team was as surprised as anyone," the statement reads.
Though Leonares told CNet that Alex did give permission to have his photo taken by a local fangirl, it's unclear if Alex knew where the photo would end up.
Breakr didn't immediately return requests for comment from The Huffington Post.
From Huff Po: For most teenage stars, the rise to fame comes from combination of stage parenting and a talent for singing, acting or just looking cute.
But thanks to the Internet, one teenager just became famous for bagging groceries.
Meet “Alex from Target.” Those three words encompass basically all we know about him: His name is Alex (at least according to his Target name tag), he works at Target, and he has the boyish good looks of a young Nick Carter, Justin Bieber or any other teenage heartthrob with wispy blonde hair.
Twitter user @auscalum posted a picture of him yesterday afternoon, and the Internet took notice. A Twitter account with the bio “Official Alex from Target” now has 346,000 followers and counting. Another Twitter account, which tweeted for the first time 15 hours ago and also claims to be affiliated with Alex, has 24,000 followers.
Target is embracing the teen’s newfound fame, and presumably some extra attention from the youngs can only be a good thing for a brand that’s working to win back its mojo. Long adored by middle-class shoppers looking for chic clothes on the cheap, Target has suffered in recent years thanks to a declining interest in big box stores and a massive credit card hack last year.
The chain is looking to win customers back by highlighting designer collaborations and exclusive toy lines this holiday season, Fortune reported last month. Like Walmart, Target is also expanding its line of smaller format stores to lure urban customers.
But maybe all it takes is a cute teen employee?
“Imagine our surprise yesterday when one of our Target team members managed to flood the Internet with images of red and khaki without even trying,” Molly Snyder, a spokeswoman for Target, wrote in an email. “We are proud to have a great team, including #AlexFromTarget.”
She added that out of respect for his privacy, the company isn’t revealing the location of Alex's store or making him available for interviews right now.
Like hundreds -- if not thousands -- of teenage girls, HuffPost is still waiting for Alex to respond to messages sent to his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Here are a few tweets from the account that claims to be the "Official Alex":
I wonder what Kmart will do a few years from now.... Black Wednesday?
From Huff Po:
Kmart will open its doors to Black Friday shoppers at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and remain open for 42 hours straight, the company announced Monday. That's one hour longer than last year's marathon shopping session.
Sears, which like Kmart is owned by Sears Holdings Corp, will begin its Black Friday sales earlier than ever at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Kmart and Sears join a long list of stores waging a so-called "War on Thanksgiving," forcing millions of low-wage employees to spend their Thanksgiving holidays working.
A Kmart and Sears spokesperson told The Huffington Post in an email that stores will be staffed by seasonal associates and workers who volunteered to work on the holiday, both of whom will be compensated with "holiday pay."
"This holiday season is all about giving more to our members and because many like to start shopping well before Black Friday, we're excited to open our doors early on Thanksgiving and offer other early access opportunities for them to shop and save," Leena Munjal, senior vice president for Sears Holdings, said in a statement on the company's website.
Kmart certainly isn't the only store open on Thanksgiving. Most Walmart stores will be open all day. Macy's said it plans to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving -- two hours earlier than last year -- and will pay workers time-and-a-half.
Meanwhile, Costco and Sam's Club will remain closed on Thanksgiving.
Last year, Kmart's decision to open at 6 a.m. and remain open for 41 hours garnered some harsh criticism from shoppers who said it was inappropriate to be open all day on the holiday.
And the store's controversial decision barely paid off: Comparable-store sales at Sears and Kmart fell sharply during the holiday season last year.
Sears Holdings has been struggling for a while. The company is reportedly closing more than 100 underperforming stores and laying off thousands of workers as a part of its ongoing effort to generate cash.
Secretly, I hope this backfires on Walmart. In a BIG way.
From Yahoo News:
Is Wal-Mart (WMT) jumping the shark? The world’s biggest retailer is now kicking off the holiday season before Halloween trick-or-treaters come down from their sugar rush. The company announced it is starting the shopping season Saturday, November 1st. Wal-Mart is offering more than 20,000 Rollbacks on products including brands such as Disney’s “Frozen,” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Samsung and Dell.
Amazon (AMZN) will also be kicking off its holiday deal season Saturday. The online retail giant will feature two daily "deals of the day" from November 1 through December 22.
But Wal-Mart is hoping to take on the ecommerce giant. On November 3rd, it is going to be hosting is own version of Cyber Monday- a 24-hour cyber savings event. The company plans to expand its digital shelves to include 7 million items. They include the following:
Sony 48” LED HDTV for $348 versus $448
Nintendo 2DS Handheld Video Game System for $79 compared to $129
Barbie Dreamhouse for $120, was $148.82
Office Depot and OfficeMax will also have holiday deals this weekend on computers, and Sears will offer special deals during a friends and family sale on November 9, according to USA Today.
Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Aaron Task says Halloween has become the new Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart is aggressively courting consumers before the holidays even begin, but the strategy may backfire. He thinks consumers will ponder whether to do their holiday shopping now and get started early or ask themselves, "Well, if they are giving me this deal today, what’s going to be a month from now or six weeks from now as we really do get closer to Christmas?" Task says, "If people think prices are going to keep going down, they are going to wait to buy.”
Wal-Mart has said it is steeling itself for competition to be as tough or tougher than last year, when heavy discounting ate into margins across retailers. The company’s profits dropped in the holiday quarter last year, and it has posted six straight quarters of flat or declining same-store sales in the U.S. Research firm Customer Growth Partners predicts consumer spending will rise 3.4 percent, up slightly from last year’s 2.9 percent growth- the slowest since 2009.
Wal-Mart is also testing a program to match online prices from competitors such as Amazon.com (AMZN). A spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal that executives are discussing whether they will go ahead with the price-matching program, expanding on the current one for local brick-and-mortar competitors. It is already testing the plan in certain markets and individual store managers already have the discretion to match online prices if shoppers ask. The retailer has resisted officially matching online prices even as competitors Best Buy and Target took on the practice of “showrooming” where customers browse at traditional stores but end up shopping online.
Task thinks price-matching comes at a price. It eats heavily into margins, but he says “the hope is if you are shopping at Wal-Mart, you buy that one extra item, and they can make it up on volume. They’re saying, 'Look, we want you to shop at Wal-Mart whether it's in the store or online.' Whether people do it is the question. I guess you gotta give them credit, they’re being very aggressive here.”
Way to go Costco. RHU salutes you!
It's awesome there are a few companies left that still care.
From Think Progress:
Costco is among the companies that will choose to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, a spokesperson confirmed to ThinkProgress. None of the nearly 127,000 people who work for the company will have to come in on the holiday.
In explaining why it decided to stay closed, the spokesperson said, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that.”
That makes at least five chain stores that have decided to resist the new trend of beginning Black Friday sales a day early, thus ensuring that a large number of employees will have to come to work. Dillard’s, Burlington, REI, and American Girl all told ThinkProgress they will remain closed on the holiday, and Dillard’s explained that its decision was part of its “longstanding tradition of honoring of our customers’ and associates’ time with family.”
Other stores have let the holiday shopping craze creep into workers’ Thanksgiving meal time. Macy’s announced this year that it will open at 6 p.m. on the holiday, while Walmart will be open all day, requiring nearly 1 million people to show up to work. The trend really took off last year, with at least 12 major brands deciding to open on Thanksgiving itself and thus require at least some people to be at work during mealtime.
Retail employees may not have a lot of choice about whether they come to work that day. Although many stores say shifts have been filled by volunteers, they may be volunteering because their unstable schedules don’t normally give them enough hours to live on. And many likely aren’t guaranteed any holiday time off, as the United States is the only developed country without a national requirement, leaving nearly a quarter of private sector workers and 45 percent of service workers without the benefit. Last year a few workers reported that their requests to take the day off were denied
More From Huff PO:
"Since our inception 30-plus years ago, we have always been closed on Thanksgiving," Paul Latham, a spokesman for Costco, told HuffPost. "It will be the same this year."
Costco is one of a handful of large retail stores that have refused to take part in what some have called a "War on Thanksgiving" being waged by companies looking to squeeze the most profit out of the holiday shopping season. In recent years, Walmart, Target, Macy's and dozens of other large chains have kicked off their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, meaning millions of low-wage workers can't spend the holiday with their families.
Costco has cultivated a reputation for treating its workers better than its competitors do. The company pays a much higher starting salary than other retailers and offers health benefits to many part-time workers. Its tradition of staying closed on Thanksgiving is in that same spirit, according to the company.
"Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families," Latham told HuffPost last year.
Sam's Club, the Walmart-owned bulk goods retailer, will also be closed on Thanksgiving day, according to Sarah McKinney, a company spokeswoman. Most Walmart stores will be open all day on the holiday, though it hasn't announced when its Black Friday sales will start.
Dillard’s, Burlington, REI, and American Girl will remain closed on Thanksgiving, according to ThinkProgress.
Still, retailers keep encroaching more and more on Thanksgiving Day. This year, Macy's will be opening its doors to Black Friday shoppers earlier than ever -- 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.