Home Politics Ohio lawmaker demands triple pay for Thanksgiving retail employees

Ohio lawmaker demands triple pay for Thanksgiving retail employees

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What do the words “Thanksgiving Day” bring to mind? Most likely, you imagine a big dinner with turkey, potatoes, vegetables and pies. Your extended family is around the table, and football is on the TV.

For some people, however, Thanksgiving Day means working long shifts in retail, dealing with irate customers and spending time behind the register.

Ohio Rep. Mike Foley believes everyone should have the option for the former on Thanksgiving. That’s why he is drafting legislation that would require retailers to pay their employees triple time for working on the holiday.

“My wife and I were reading the paper,” Foley told The New Political, “and we saw these places were staying open on Thanksgiving. It seemed pretty disgusting to me.”

A few retailers have offered to pay their employees overtime, but Foley believes that Thanksgiving is a day for families, and is disturbed by the way that retail chains have been encroaching on this tradition: “If they’re going to destroy family life on Thanksgiving, we should compensate [the employees] to a greater degree.”

The bill would also allow employees to take the day off without repercussions.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, kicks off the holiday season and is the biggest shopping day of the year for retailers. In an attempt to draw more customers, retailers started pushing back the opening time for their stores.

In 2011, several large retail chains, including Target, Kohl’s and Macy’s opened at midnight on Thanksgiving. Last year, Wal-Mart opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. This year, multiple retailers will be opening on the evening of Thanksgiving.

Foley has asked the Legislative Services Commission, a research arm of the General Assembly, to help prepare the bill, which will not be ready in time to pass before Thanksgiving in less than two weeks.

Foley does not expect much help from across the aisle.

“Something like this that regulates, [Republicans] try to stay as far away from it as they possibly can,” he said.

Still, he hopes that Republicans will be “just as irritated” as he is over having employees work on a family holiday. He will certainly need the help: Republicans hold a 39-60 advantage in the General Assembly.

When asked if he would consider extending these benefits to employees working on other holidays, Foley said he would consider it, but for now is focused on garnering the support for a law that would give everyone the opportunity of spending a traditional Thanksgiving with their families.


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