The email below is from Justin Uebelhor, a CREDO activist in Chicago, Illinois. Justin started a petition onCREDO Mobilize, where activists can launch their own campaigns for progressive change. Will you help Justin pressure CEO Eddie Lampert to respect Kmart workers and let them spend Thanksgiving with family by signing his petition and sharing it with your friends and family?
Kmart recently announced that, unlike other retailers, it won't close on Thanksgiving or simply open for a few hours on Thursday afternoon--it's asking workers to give up the holiday entirely. Kmart is planning to open up stores at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and stay open for 41 hours straight.
As a former Kmart employee, I was shocked to hear that my former co-workers would be forced to spend the holiday away from their families. That's why I started my own campaign on CREDOMobilize.com, which allows activists to start their own petitions. My petition, which is to Eddie Lampert, CEO of Kmart's parent company, Sears Holdings, says the following:
Respect your workers and let them spend the holidays with their families. Cancel your plan to open Kmart on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving isn't just the day before holiday shopping begins. It's a day when most Americans gather together with friends and family and give thanks -- some traveling thousands of miles just to celebrate the day with loved ones.
I worked at a Kmart store in Indiana for more than five years throughout high school and college. Over that time I worked on a few Thanksgivings, but I lived close enough to my family that I still had a chance to spend time with them over the holidays.
Many of my co-workers weren't so lucky -- with relatives traveling into town for the holidays, they lost precious time with their loved ones. Considerate managers would do their best to work with employees to be flexible, but that only goes so far when corporate policies put the bottom line before families. Now, Kmart's expanded hours on Thanksgiving make matters even worse -- stretching an already thin workforce even thinner -- and employees from around the country have found signs in their break rooms stating that no time-off requests will be accepted over the holiday.
At Kmart, employees are asked to make sacrifices for hourly wages just above the minimum. My former coworkers worked long shifts on ever-changing schedules, rarely receiving enough hours to make ends meet. They shouldn't be strong-armed into working on Thanksgiving, as has been reported, and separated from their families.1
In the midst of a nationwide groundswell of workers organizing for fair wages and better treatment at fast-food restaurants and retail stores, now is the perfect time to spotlight Kmart's treatment of its workers. Let's have those workers' backs and build public pressure on Kmart's parent company, Sears Holdings, which has struggled financially and can't afford to lose customers to other stores over the holidays.