The Huffington Post wrote a piece about Costco, BJ’s Wholesale, and Nordstrom standing against the Thanksgiving incursion. Here’s what Costco, which pays its workers roughly double what Walmart pays, had to say:

“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families,” Paul Latham, the company’s vice president for membership and marketing, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “Nothing more complicated than that.”

No word if Costco workers were beating down the doors to volunteer to work like those at Walmart and Macy’s.

The Seattle Times has a good story that covers the labor angle prominently. Amy Martinez gets this great stuff from an actual worker (!):

A local Sports Authority worker said he’ll miss out on Thanksgiving dinner with his family because he has to report for duty at 5 p.m. Thursday for the store’s 6 p.m. opening. He said the holiday shift comes with no extra pay or perks.

“My family doesn’t plan to eat dinner until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, so I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with them, basically,” said the twenty-something worker, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, citing a fear of getting fired. “The whole thing seems over the top. I don’t see why you can’t just open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday and close at 10 p.m.”

By doing a little reporting, Martinez got the Times a perfect example of the serious problems with stores opening on Thanksgiving.

Finally, Bloomberg News has a very good story on the Thanksgiving labor angle, reporting that unions are being energized by the backlash and putting retail creep into context:

Macy’s Inc., whose annual Manhattan parade is a cherished Thanksgiving tradition for millions, is starting a new holiday ritual: It’s asking its employees to show up for work.

Pressured by competition, a shorter shopping season and lackluster consumer spending, at least a dozen U.S. mega-retailers are opening for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, such as Macy’s, or opening earlier that day than in previous years. They are following Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. employer, which has been open for business on Thanksgiving for more than 25 years.

“Another holiday bites the dust in favor of retailers,” Candace Corlett, president of New York consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, said in a Nov. 12 phone interview. “Our culture now is to shop, and to get the best deals. Thanksgiving as a day of rest was another culture, another time, not today.”

The expansion of hours will take more than a million employees away from their families during the holiday.

That’s what I’m talking about!

The selling-on-Thanksgiving story is many things: it’s a business story, a cultural story, a local story—but it’s an important labor story too.


 

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.