Lawmaker wants stores pay workers triple overtime for Thanksgiving Day

Springfield Rep. McGregor against opening on holiday, and bill

The first so-called “War on Thanksgiving” has passed, and some state lawmakers said once was enough.

Rep. Mike Foley, D-Cleveland, wants to discourage stores from opening their doors on turkey day by making them pay triple overtime to employees working the holiday and Black Friday. Stores that remain closed on Thanksgiving would not have to pay overtime to employees working Black Friday.

House Bill 360 would also protect from retaliation employees who refuse to work on Thanksgiving.

Foley said the idea came to him while reading the Black Friday newspaper ads with his wife. Foley said he was disturbed at the “hollow capitalism” of opening on Thursday to compete with other stores’ sales and wanted to speak out. He said government should block the practice, similar to how it sets minimum wages and standard working conditions.

“Capitalism, free market, whatever you want to call it, our economic system has rough edges … it’s the role of government to smooth them out,” said Foley.

Meanwhile, Rep. Ross McGregor, R-Springfield, said he and his wife agreed not to shop at stores that opened on the holiday, but doesn’t think lawmakers should step in.

“Personally, I find it distasteful stores would open on the actual Thanksgiving Day holiday, but there are a lot of other things we need to be working on at the Statehouse rather than chiding businesses for deciding on being open on Thanksgiving,” McGregor said.

The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants hasn’t taken a position on opening Thanksgiving Day but opposes Foley’s bill. The council’s president and CEO Gordon Gough said the bill discriminates against retailers, when restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other businesses stay open.

“There is obviously consumer demand because my members who are choosing to be open wouldn’t open the stores and turn on the lights if there weren’t shoppers to shop,” Gough said.

Initial reports indicate Thanksgiving Day shopping gave retail stores a boost. Spending on Black Friday dropped 13.2 percent compared to 2012, according to retail research firm ShopperTrak. But combined spending over Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose 2.3 percent.

Walmart reported 22 million people shopped its stores on Thanksgiving Day and stores completed 10 million transactions between 6 and 10 p.m., alone.

In recent years, more stores have decided to open on Thanksgiving Day to keep up with customer demand and competitors.

Area Elder-Beerman stores opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day this year, last year they opened at midnight.

“This was an evolution over the years,” said Mary Kerr, vice president for investor and public relations at Bon-Ton Stores which owns Elder-Beerman. “Each Black Friday we would open a little earlier than the previous year.”

Kerr said that Bon-Ton offers wokers premium pay for working holiday shifts and many associates volunteer to work on the holiday.

For Gap Stores such as Old Navy, opening on Thanksgiving Day has become the norm.

“This is our fifth year at Old Navy and fourth year across our brands opening on Thanksgiving,” said Gap spokesperson Andrea Hicklin. “We know from their receptiveness to our Thanksgiving openings in previous years that many of our customers want the opportunity to jump start their holiday shopping.”

Neither Bon-Ton nor Gap would provide details on how sales went on the holiday.

One regional furniture chain was not open on Thanksgiving Day and has no plans to join the trend.

“We believe that there are certain times that are for work and certain times that are for family and for pleasure,” said Larry Klaben, president CEO of Morris Furniture Company Inc. “Thanksgiving is a time for people to be with their family and their friends.”

Morris has 14 furniture stores in the Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus markets.

Klaben said electronics is a major part of Morris’ sales, but unlike many national competitors the chain is holding firm to its decision to not open on Thanksgiving.

“When you open on the holiday, you’re not only having your associates have to work, but you’re putting offers out there that are forcing people to leave their families and friends to go shop,” Klaben said.

Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have laws that prohibit big grocery and retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So-called “blue laws,” which often prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays, are rooted in religion, possibly dating back to the Puritans.

Klaben said that even though his company decides to be closed on Thanksgiving, he doesn’t support Foley’s bill.

“I think it should be left up to the business what is a fair and equitable thing to do,” he said. “Unfortunately, the laws are passed bacause people don’t always do what others consider to be the ethical or moral way of doing something.”

Foley said workers should be able to give thanks with their families on Thanksgiving.

“I don’t think Thanksgiving should be the day you get the best deal,” Foley said. “I think Thanksgiving should be the day you play football with your family, have a big dinner, complain about crazy Uncle Bob.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Man steals Jeep from dealership during test drive, police say
Man steals Jeep from dealership during test drive, police say

Authorities are looking for a man who stole a Jeep on Thursday from a dealership during a test drive, police said.  The suspect walked into Philly Auto dealership around 7 p.m. and expressed interest in a red Jeep Cherokee on the lot, according to WPVI.  The man and a salesman went on a test drive. During the drive, the man started driving...
Attorneys say convicted killer's IQ too low to be executed
Attorneys say convicted killer's IQ too low to be executed

Attorneys for an Orange County man who was convicted of first-degree murder and arson last year said their client's IQ might be too low for him to be executed. A jury in May 2017 convicted Juan Rosario of beating Elena Ortega, 83, and burning her alive in her home in 2013. Jurors unanimously decided that he should be sentenced to death. Rosario's lawyers...
Florida man armed with 20-inch knife tries to carjack sheriff citizen patrol car, deputies say
Florida man armed with 20-inch knife tries to carjack sheriff citizen patrol car, deputies say

A man armed with a 20-inch knife tried to carjack a Flagler County Sheriff’s Citizen Observer Patrol (C.O.P.) vehicle while Cpl. Angela Camit was on patrol, authorities said. Camit said that after the failed carjacking attempt on Eric Drive in Palm Coast, the man, later identified as Stephen Goldberg, fled. Camit followed him and that’s...
Controversial headstone company closes, says it plans to resolve orders
Controversial headstone company closes, says it plans to resolve orders

A grave marker company that was the focus of a police investigation and several consumer complaints, including one from a metro Atlanta woman, said it has permanently closed. The president of Wichman Monuments of Chattanooga said it plans to resolve as many unfilled orders as possible, according to the Times Free Press. The 72-year-old business...
Civil rights attorney, former national parks leader named trailblazers
Civil rights attorney, former national parks leader named trailblazers

A civil rights lawyer and a former National Parks Service superintendent were the first to receive the Trailblazer Awards from the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument, officials said. Benjamin L. Crump, a civil rights lawyer, and Robert G. Stanton, former NPS leader, were presented the awards Thursday on the 154th birthday of Young. Crump has been...
More Stories