Ohio Bill Would Give Retail Workers Triple Wages on Thanksgiving

by Harry Sheff
Ohio State Rep. Mike Foley
Ohio State Rep. Mike Foley

A state representative in Ohio, Cleveland Democrat Mike Foley, has written a bill that would allow Ohio retail workers to refuse holiday shifts without repercussions and force retailers to pay triple wages for those who do opt to work. It would also cover hours outside of normal schedules for Black Friday; for example, if a store opened at midnight. The deal is not expected to go far in the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature, but it’s making national news anyway.

“Doorbuster deals should never take precedent over our traditional holiday celebration of spending time with family and loved ones,” said Rep. Foley in a statement. “The Thanksgiving holiday has devolved in to a mess of consumerism and hollow capitalism that places corporate profit motives over traditional morals and family values.”

State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown), who also supported the bill, added, “Traditionally, Thanksgiving has been a holiday when Ohioans look forward to visiting friends and relatives, having a meal and enjoying a day off– not rising at the crack of dawn to deal with long lines of irritated customers. This bill would go a long way to ensure that workers who are sacrificing time away from their families to work the madness of the holiday rush are properly compensated.”

In an Associated Press article about the bill, Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski pointed out that consumers want to shop on Thanksgiving—44.8 million of them last year, according to NRF statistics. Macy’s stores open at 6pm on Thanksgiving this year (it opened at 8pm last year), and all employees scheduled to work the holiday have volunteered.

“The positive response to working on Thanksgiving was strong,” Sluzewski told the AP. “In fact, many associates told us that working Thanksgiving evening and overnight means they can be home or with family and friends on Black Friday, which is very unusual in the retail industry.”

The AP also spoke to Gordon Gough, the CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, who said that suddenly imposing triple wages on retailers that have always been open on holidays—like gas stations and restaurants—would be unfair.