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Workers fight back against early Black Friday openings

Jennifer Collins Nov 18, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: A week to go until all those big bargains kick off the all-important holiday shopping season. Stores are opening early for this Black Friday — some as early as Thursday night. As in Thanksgving night. But that’s making some folks mad, like employees — and some shoppers — who’ve started petitions calling for stores to open later.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: Anthony Hardwick has worked for Target for three years. And this is how he learned about the store’s midnight opening on the day after Thanksgiving.

Anthony Hardwick: It was just like, this is what you’re going to be working on Black Friday, take it or leave it. And most people are so desperate to keep their jobs that you know obviously we’ve got to take it.

Hardwick has full time job elsewhere and only works part time at Target. So he started an online petition — calling on the chain to sleep in until the lazy hour of 5 a.m.

Hardwick: I felt that I needed to stand up for the folks who are full-time and Target’s their only job.

His petition has drawn over 150,000 supporters. And inspired similar complaints against early openers like Walmart, Toys R Us and the outlet chain Tangers.

Rick Melaragni started a petition calling on Best Buy to open later. He says he’s building on the work of another movement.

Rick Melaragni: Occupy Wall Street has given us a good push and people are starting to we don’t just have to lay down and take it. We do have options. We can get noticed.

Sullivan: What the Occupy Movement has done more than anything is it has changed the dialogue.

Sociology professor Richard Sullivan of Illinois State University says workers are at the point where they’re telling their employers they can’t take it anymore.

Sullivan: My pay hasn’t gone up. I don’t have good benefits. My hours may have been cut back.And now I have to go in on Thanksgiving.

Both Hardwick and Melaragni say they’ll be able to eat their Thanksgiving dinners whenever they want. Since they started their online petitions, their managers have let them know they have the early shift off.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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