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Leo W Gerard: One Percenters Stuff Their Pumpkin Pie Holes

This Thanksgiving, in dining rooms across America, the turkey will be smaller, the stuffing more meager, the pumpkin pie sliced thinner. Gratitude will be given. But roiling just below the surface, for far too many families, will be economic anxiety.

The vast majority of working Americans haven’t seen a real raise in 35 years.Meanwhile, every year, their health care costs rise. Their employers eliminate pensions. And their kids struggle with rising college or technical school tuition and debt. Workers worry whether they will ever be able to pay the bills.

By contrast, on the other side of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the richest 1 percent are supersizing their feasts. For example, three families will spend $45,000 – each – for Marie Antoinette-style meals, gold flakes and all, at the Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York City. That’s up by $10,000 from the restaurant’s Thanksgiving fare for eight last year. It’s more, for one meal, than the average American worker earns in a year.

The 1 percent can spend $45,000 for a Thanksgiving supper because they’re gobbling up virtually all of the income from workers’ productivity increases. And now they’ve launched a new assault on workers. It’s a lawsuit called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA). The 1 percent hopes it will prevent public service workers like teachers from joining together to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. If the $45,000-Thanksgiving-dinner crew wins the case, they’ll go after private-sector labor organizations next. They intend to gorge themselves until there’s nothing left for workers.

This is what a $75-a-pound turkey struts like.

This is what a $75-a-pound turkey struts like.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes two turkeys. Because when would one, 20-pound free-range, organically raised bird at $75 a pound ever be enough?

The Friedrichs case is about power. Individual workers don’t bargain for raises with gigantic multinational corporations and government agencies. They beg.

But when workers band together and seek raises as a team, they gain for themselves the power necessary to negotiate. That’s intolerable to 1 percenters. And that’s why they’re backing the Friedrichs case – to seize that negotiating power from workers.

Defending their right to collectively bargain are public service workers ­– the likes of firemen, teachers, social workers and public health nurses. The labor organizations these workers belong to try to ensure that they receive living wages and decent retirement benefits.

But just as importantly, public service workers also use their collective voice to negotiate in the public interest, including improving response times for paramedics and lowering social worker caseloads to allow adequate time to investigate child abuse allegations.

Public school teachers, who spend an average of $500 a year out of their own pockets for classroom supplies, routinely bargain to secure the smaller class sizes that parents want, to protect the recess breaks that elementary students need and to preserve arts and music education.

In addition, significantly, a study last spring showed that more than half of teachers have used their own money to help students experiencing crises, to get them clothing or to feed them.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes gravy made with Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, which goes for $4,900 a bottle. Because when would $9 worth of cooking sherry ever be good enough?

The paychecks of all workers are on the line in the Friedrichs case because if the 1 percent succeeds in stripping rights from public service workers, it will go after those of everyone else.

This creates great economic risks, not just for union members, but for non-union workers and their children.

As it is now, a union member earns, on average, $200 more a week and receives better benefits than a worker who is not in a labor organization. If the 1 percenters succeed in robbing private sector as well as public service workers of their bargaining rights, then the wealthy will gain clout to eliminate that union advantage and eventually to suppress all wages.

When union members lose, all workers lose.  That’s because their ability to secure better wages pressures employers whose workers aren’t organized to raise their pay too. In addition, a study released earlier this year showed that the children of union members as well as the children of non-union members who live in high union density communities experience greater upward mobility.

That means entire communities benefit from the work of labor organizations. And entire communities would suffer if the 1 percent can weaken or destroy them.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving includes whipped sweet potatoes festooned with $1,600-an-ounce Royal Osetra caviar. Because when would the red-light-special, $115-an-ounce can of fish eggs ever be acceptable?

Providing the big bucks to push the Friedrichs case is the Center for Individual Rights (CIR), which is bankrolled by 1 percenters and right-wing organizations. Its name is significant. It wants to isolate workers, render them individuals rather than members of teams acting concertedly to win benefits for all.

The name of the group opposing CIR is noteworthy as well. It is America Works Together. It supports workers’ right to jointly seek advancement of all members of the group. Of course, labor organizations like the National Education Association (NEA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and my union, the United Steelworkers (USW), are members of America Works Together.

But the coalition also includes civil rights, faith, legal and health organizations.Among them are the Alliance for a Just Society, Coalition on Human Needs, Interfaith Worker Justice and The Main Street Alliance.

America Works Together is an alliance of alliances advocating for the right of American workers to form alliances. It’s a symbol of the idea it supports – that community creates power.

The Marie Antoinette $45,000 Thanksgiving final course is pumpkin ice cream decked with 24-carat gold flakes and a $4,200 bottle of private reserve rum-infused eggnog sauce.

That’s dessert for the 1 percent.

The 99 percent is seeking just deserts before the U.S. Supreme Court so that workers will retain the right to organize and collectively bargain for wages that will enable them to provide not a garish Marie Antoinette meal but a simple Norman RockwellThanksgiving for their families.


This Thanksgiving: How To Talk About The Economy Without Getting Into An Argument

man yelling with megaphone

Is your family one of those families… where Thanksgiving dinner always ends up in a political argument?

First thing to remember is that arguing won’t get you anywhere. Research shows that when the people you’re talking with hold strong beliefs, arguing with them only makes it harder for them to change those beliefs. And “when people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. … when faced with doubt, people shout even louder.”

Political scientists call it the “backfire” effect – and if you’re an activist, you need to know about it (and remember it). Also remember that there are neurological differences between “Republican” and “Democratic” brains… and there are behavioral differences… although scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what those differences mean.

no_megaphoneSo what are you supposed to do? If you’re, say, sitting around the Thanksgiving table when Great Uncle Chester starts berating your college-graduate niece about the fact that she’s living at home rather than in her own apartment…?

Start by finding common ground. There’s always something to agree on, if you just look hard enough. Even if it’s just a gentle restatement of what the other person said. “Yes, Uncle Chester, we all agree that college graduates should be able to find jobs that allow them to support themselves.”

Then, add a little reality in there. “But that doesn’t seem to be happening in the current economy. There are a whole lot of twenty-somethings who are still living at home.”

Try to use personal examples rather than just facts. “I remember what my neighbor’s son went through, when he graduated two years ago. It took him 18 months to find a job, and even then he earned barely enough for him to make his student loan payments.”

When you talk about facts, try to frame them as a question, not a statement. “Don’t you think that the economy has changed from when you graduated college? Remember how working in a bank used to be a highly-respected job? Did you know that, these days, almost one-third of bank tellers need food stamps?”

Don’t push too hard. With Uncle Chester, you might not be able to persuade him of anything other than that he should stop berating your niece. (And if you push any further, the conversation might get loud and become a “nobody’s going to win this” argument.)

But continue the conversation, if your audience seems receptive. “Did you know that, these days, banks are paying billions of dollars to stockholders, rather than paying their tellers a decent wage?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a second cousin Mildred who insists that “cutting taxes for job creators” is the answer to everything?

Find something you both agree on. “Nobody likes paying taxes.”

Add a personal story. “I remember when we got President Bush’s ‘tax refund checks’ back in 2001 and 2008. It was nice to get the money, but I didn’t invest it. I don’t know anybody who invested it. Most people either kept the money in the bank or used it to pay down debt.”

Then, a little reality. “Did you know that Congress has been cutting taxes on ‘job creators’ since Ronald Reagan was President? Back then, they used to call it ‘supply side economics.’ But it didn’t fix the economy; all it did was create a huge budget deficit. So after a few years President Reagan gave up on the idea and increased taxes again.”

Is Mildred still listening? If she looks interested, rather than angry, give her a few more facts. “Did you know that corporations are spending literally trillions of dollars buying back their own stock? Rather than building new factories or hiring new employees, they’re buying back shares of their own stock in order to keep stock prices high.”

Is she still listening? “And corporations are even borrowing money – bonds they will be paying back for decades – in order to give money to their stockholders now. So I don’t think CEOs would really invest money from tax cuts in ‘job creation.’ Don’t you think they would just pay it out to stockholders?”

Is she still listening? “I wonder what would happen to our tax rates, if corporations were paying taxes at the same rate they used to, before the SEC started allowing companies to buy back their own stock. Don’t you think that we might be paying less in taxes?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneDo you have a brother-in-law who isn’t bothered by increasing inequality? Who thinks CEOs actually deserve to receive 373 times as much as their employees are paid?

Then you ought to read this Pacific-Standard magazine article about a recent International Monetary Fund report.

And you can start the conversation with something like, “We all agree that economic growth is a good thing.”

Then add a little reality. “Did you know that income inequality actually hurts our country’s economic growth?”

Add a story. “Gosh, I wonder if this is why Macy’s is having such a hard time. None of my friends are planning to do their Christmas shopping there.   It seems like everybody is shopping discount stores or making their gifts, this year.”

Use questions. “How can the economy recover, if ordinary people don’t have money to spend? Did you know that one in ten American jobs is in retail? What’s going to happen to that sector of the economy if wages stay stagnant?  What’s going to happen to the rest of the economy?”

Know your audience, and either stop (before things get loud) or keep going. “Did you know that increasing the income share to the bottom 20% – even just by a tiny bit – helps the whole economy grow?”  “Do you think that’s why the economy grew more, back when income was a bit more equal?”

— — — —

no_megaphoneAnd if the conversation turns to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty… please be thoughtful and careful about what you say.

Personally, I’m tired of politicians pitting people against each other. And factory employees in Singapore are working to feed their families, just like we are.

The problem with the TPP isn’t overseas workers, it’s how much power the treaty would give to corporations. It’s how much power the treaty would give to big banks. It’s the idea of America giving up our right to enforce our laws, when those laws are inconvenient to multinational corporations. It’s the idea of turning over even more of our country’s sovereignty to international “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) tribunals.  Read more about how the TPP empowers corporations on the Public Citizen website.

So please, if you’re opposing the TPP, don’t talk about how overseas workers are taking “our” jobs. The real problem is how much it will benefit corporations.

The real problem is that corporate profits are at all-time highs… while labor’s share of that bounty is pretty close to its all-time low.

And the TPP is likely to make that problem worse, not better.

But that’s not the fault of the migrant workers in a Malaysian electronics factory.

— — — —

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope the conversation around your dinner table is a peaceful one.

— — — —

no_fearBut if the conversation turns to Paris and Syrian refugees, please be especially careful. Fear is one of the most basic human emotions… it’s also one of the most destructive… and one of the easiest to manipulate.

Journalist Naomi Klein is the author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” She’s done a lot of research into how corporatists use disasters to push through political change. Read her work about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina here.

“For more than three decades, [economist Milton] Friedman and his powerful followers had been perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the ‘reforms’ permanent. In one of his most influential essays, Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as the shock doctrine. He observed that ‘only a crisis— actual or perceived—produces real change.’ ”

I think of her work every time someone mentions the Bush tax cuts. Back in 2001, the federal government had a budget surplus; and in the first few weeks of September, the Washington Post did a poll that found 57% of Americans wanted the Bush tax cuts reversed, in order to preserve that surplus. Then 9/11 happened. And a decade and a half later, we still haven’t gotten tax rates restored to Clinton-era levels… and the federal debt has increased by $12.4 trillion.  (And we’re being told we need to cut Social Security, rather than restore the tax rates that President Bush cut even further “while citizens were still reeling from the shock” of 9/11.)

The Paris attacks renewed the atmosphere of fear that I remember after 9/11… and we’ve already seen how some politicians want to use that fear to change government policies. The good news is: my Facebook feed is full of people pushing back against these proposals, questioning them and using historical analogies to say “This is not what America stands for.” The bad news is: Facebook feeds are determined by an algorithm that tends to reinforce what people already believe.

So… when the conversation turns to Paris, and ISIS, remember the advice above.  Arguing isn’t going to help. You need to find some way to help the people you’re talking with step away from their fear, and step into the reality that their fear allows them to be manipulated. Find something to say that you both agree on – most people agree that refugees should be vetted before being resettled – and work from there.

Granite State Rumblings: Ten Ways to Teach Your Kids to Give Back this Holiday Season


1.    Support the Troops

Cards and letters from back home are some of the most important gifts you could send to our troops. Besides putting a smile on a soldier’s face, this is also a great opportunity to help your child learn to write a letter. Plus, it doesn’t cost a thing (other than domestic postage) if you mail it to an organization like SKIP to send to a soldier for you. SKIP’s mailing address is: Special Kindness In Packages, Inc., P.O. Box 276, East Bridgewater, MA 02333.

The United Service Organizations (USO) also offers various drives for soldiers. Sponsor the cost of a phone call home or call your local USO division to find out how you might help directly.

2.    Invite Someone Over

Know of a lonely relative? A neighbor far from home? A student unable to go home for the holidays? Consider offering up a seat at your dinner table this Thanksgiving. And don’t forget to ask your children to help you with the shopping list.

3.    Visit a Retirement Home

Retirement homes are likely to have at least some residents who won’t see family members during Thanksgiving. Determine what visiting hours are first, and have your child pick out a small gift or make a decoration to bring along if you so desire — or simply give the gift of good conversation.

4.    Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Soup kitchens see an influx of volunteers during the holidays, but it’s important to remember that hunger is a year-round problem. Still, most soup kitchens are grateful for the extra volunteers. Call local churches or check out Homeless Shelter Directory to find local shelters, pantries and soup kitchens.

5.    Donate to Food Banks

Chances are, you have extra cans of food in your pantry right now. Go look. Now consider donating those cans. First, find a local food bank, then determine what it needs. Think outside the box: Sometimes pantries are in need of non-edible supplies, like soap and toothbrushes.  The next time you are at the grocery store with your kids, ask them to imagine what children their age might want and pick one or two canned goods to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive or a food bank.

6.    Respect Your Elders

Look for opportunities to volunteer as a family. Devote time to neighbors or other family members by scheduling a group project to rake leaves for an elderly relative or cook a meal for someone who’s under the weather.

Meals on Wheels delivers daily more than 1 million meals to the home-bound, and many of those served by the program are elderly. According to data collected by Meals on Wheels, the number of food-insecure senior citizens increased by 88 percent between 2001-2011. The organization is always looking for volunteers.

7.    Visit a Hospital

Hospitals don’t take a break for the holidays. Call your local hospital to find out if it will accept volunteers for Thanksgiving. Offer to distribute food, bring small gifts to children or elderly, or simply sit and visit with someone. Ask your kids to pick out a gift they think a kid like them would love.

8.    Click a Button

Can’t get away from home this Thanksgiving? You can give gifts of individual food items, feed a family for several weeks, or even organize a virtual food drive through www.feedingamerica.org.

9.    Find Time for Four-Legged Friends

Take your son or daughter to an animal shelter to volunteer for a day, or sign up to volunteer once a week to spread the love throughout the year. PetFinder.com is one resource for people who want to learn how to volunteer with — or donate to — animal shelters. It even offers information on how to foster needy animals.

10. Embrace “Giving Tuesday”

After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday this year, take Tuesday off from your looming holiday to-do list, and help raise funds and awareness for a charitable cause dear to your heart. Whether it is donating to a non-profit organization like Every Child Matters in NH, volunteering in your community, or spreading awareness via social media, your efforts will embrace the true spirit of the season.

Thank you for all that you do every day of the year for the children and families in our state.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Every Child Matters!

Greedy Corporations Are Stealing Thanksgiving From Millions Of Low Wage Workers


I cannot begin to explain how outraged I am over the theft of Thanksgiving by greedy corporations who are all trying to one-up each other by opening earlier and earlier.

Thanksgiving has always been about family. The one holiday that does not revolve around buying anything more than a massive meal. It is a day where everyone has the day off, kids come home from college, and families pack up to head to grandma’s for a piece of her homemade pie.

For too many low-wage workers this Thanksgiving will not be about family but feeding the greed of their corporate bosses.

This year almost every major retailer will be open on Thanksgiving. The worst is Kmart who will be open at 6 am, and staying open for 42 hours straight.

I applaud all of the stores who have chosen not to open like GameStop and Costco.

“For us, it’s a matter of principle,” said Tony Bartel, the president of GameStop, whose company has 4,600 stores nationwide. “We have a phrase around here that we use a lot — it’s called ‘protecting the family.’ We want our associates to enjoy their complete holidays.”

“It’s an important holiday in the U.S., and our employees work hard during the holiday season, and we believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving Day with their family and friends,” said Richard A. Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Costco Wholesale.

My problem with stores being open on Thanksgiving is that they are forcing workers to forgo their own Thanksgiving to go to work or lose their jobs. Kmart has come under fire for threatening to fire any employee who does not show up for work on Thanksgiving. These low-wage workers have no choice in the matter.

I don’t see the Kmart CEO working a 12-hour day on Thanksgiving, even though it was his decision to open.

Retail workers have always been treated like garbage from their corporate bosses. They are paid just above minimum wage and are scheduled as much as possible without being classified as a full time employee to avoid being required to offer them healthcare.

No WalmartAcross the country Walmart workers will be walking out in protest. Making Change at Walmart (OUR Walmart) is walking out to protest Walmart’s low wages, lack of opportunity for full time work, and refusal to offer affordable healthcare options for associates.

This year I suggest you start a new Thanksgiving weekend tradition. Spend Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the day, eat until you burst, then later get a little more.

Instead of running around like a madman on Friday, take some time and stand with Walmart workers protesting in your area. (Click here to find a Black Friday Protest near you.) All workers deserve respect in the workplace, they deserve fair wages, and access to quality affordable healthcare.

Lastly, spend your Saturday shopping in your local community. Supporting the small businesses in your community ensures that your money stays in your community. Small Business Saturday has grown in popularity in the past few years and that is one Thanksgiving sale that I can stand behind.

Happy Thanksgiving: What I Am Thankful For This Year

Happy Thanksgiving from the NH Labor News

Happy-Thanksgiving-Day-Hd-Wallpaper-2013-001I would like to take a moment to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.   Hopefully you are enjoying the holiday with your friends and family – the way it should be — not standing in line for some super sale deals.   Then again if you are a fan of the NHLN you are probably reading this at home.

I would like to share a few things I am thankful for:

1) I am thankful for all of YOU!!! I am thankful for all of the fans and followers that I have become friends with over the last few years.  You are the greatest fans I could ever ask for. Every one of you is different and brings a different perspective to the NHLN.  Your comments help me shape future posts and improve our message.  Without your help our message would evaporate into the social media abyss.  If you keep commenting and sharing my posts, I will keep writing them.

(Shameless self-promotion, if you have not subscribed to the blog click here.)

2) I am thankful for all of those people who are working to keep us safe this Thanksgiving.  The unsung heroes who year after year forgo their own holiday celebration to be on the job.

These are our police, firefighters. Your dedication to the public, keeps us safe day and night.

We need to give a special thanks to the doctors, nurses, and hospital workers. They are always there when we need them the most. Even on Thanksgiving.

Let’s not forget those men and women who work for the water and power companies that ensure that we have electricity so your mom can burn the rolls like she does every year.

I would also like to say thank you to all those people who work in the aviation industry.  The days around Thanksgiving are the busiest travel days of the year.  Pilots, Air Traffic Controllers, and gate agents put up with disgruntled passengers and extra air traffic to help people get home for Thanksgiving.  (Read the Washington Post editorial Thanking air traffic controllers.)

This is not an all-inclusive list of dedicated workers who year after year have to work over the holidays. Thank you to all of you!  If I did not mention you specifically, it is only because there are too many to name.

3) I would like to thank my union brothers and sisters who encouraged me to stick with this blog, and to keep fighting the good fight.  Great leadership spawns great leaders!

4) Lastly I would like to say a very special thank you to my wife and family.  This blog takes a lot of my free time and my wife has been my biggest supporter.  I know she is probably tired of hearing me talk about it, but she is always there to listen.  She listens when I vent about my problems and she is there to celebrate with me when one of my posts goes viral.

I could not do this with out her continual support.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and keep sharing, liking, and most importantly keep talking.  Together we can continue to share our message of labor and progress.

The ‘War On Thanksgiving’ Has Already Begun; Retailers Have Stolen Thanksgiving

The holiday season is about to begin. On Wednesday at sundown Hanukkah begins (Hanukkah Sameach). Then on Thursday the Black Friday sales begin!  Did I miss something? Oh that’s right, Thursday is also Thanksgiving Day.  Or at least it used to be. The events of Black Friday are quickly taking over Thanksgiving and soon there will be nothing left.

Sarah Palin says there is a ‘War on Christmas’.  She is wrong; the ‘war’ is on Thanksgiving and the American worker.  The difference is that Black Friday is ‘free-market capitalism’ in action, so that makes it suitable in their book.

I would expect this trend to continue and next year Walmart, and other terrible retailers, will be opening at 12pm (noon) on Thanksgiving.  If we do not do something to stop these greedy retailers from opening earlier and earlier, it will not be long before they do not even bother to close for Thanksgiving.

This year millions of workers are being forced to work on Thanksgiving to feed the greed of their corporate owners.  This action absolutely disgusts me.  There are some jobs like police, fire, doctors, nurses, and emergency staff that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, holidays included.  These jobs are necessary for public safety and are usually paid a hefty bonus for working the holiday.  These are not the people I am complaining about.

I am disgusted at the retail stores who continue to steal the Thanksgiving holiday from their employees.  Last year stores opened at Midnight on Friday morning, or 10pm on Thursday night.  Now stores are opening at 6 or 7 pm.  Utterly disgusting!

Forced to work on Thanksgiving, for what, $7.25 an hour.  Walmart makes $25 billion dollars in profits every year and yet workers are living in poverty due to low wages.

Recently MIT created the living wage calculator.  The living wage calculator is chart that shows how much you would have to earn to have a ‘living wage’.

Screen shot 2013-11-24 at 9.35.03 AM

Living Wage Calculator Southern NH

As you can see in New Hampshire a single person would need to make a little more than $10 an hour to meet the living wage standard.  The numbers go up dramatically when you start to include children in the mix.  A single parent with two children would need to make almost $30.00 to meet the living wage standards.

This year thousands of Walmart workers will be walking out on Black Friday.  They are trying to make national attention to the low-wages that Walmart is paying.  They are striking for a living wage.  The organizers of the group Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) is asking for a few simple things.

  • Respect workers as individuals.
  • Schedule workers for full time- 40 hours a week- positions.
  • Pay workers a living wage, $25,000 per year (full time work) or $13 per hour.
  • Expand their healthcare options to make it affordable to workers.
  • End the retaliation against workers who speak up about problems.

Click here to find a Black Friday protest near you.

This year (and every year) I vow not to shop at Walmart until they begin to give their workers respect and start paying works a living wage.  I know I am only one man, and my family will not make a difference in the billions of dollars in revenue that Walmart brings in.   That is not going to stop me.  The more of us that take a stand against Walmart and their evil greedy mentality we will start to make a difference.

We are already making a difference. Since last year’s strikes, Walmart has lost 2% in overall sales. We need to keep the pressure on Walmart to show them we value the workers more than their low-priced Chinese crap.

(Please take a moment to read and sign OUR Walmart’s declaration for respect.)

Related posts: The Outrageous Truth About A $12 Minimum Wage And Your Grocery Bill

The Retail Theft Of Thanksgiving

First let me start by saying Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of your family. I hope you enjoy the holiday and the time you get to spend together.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the men and women who do not get Thanksgiving or most holidays off.  These dedicated men and women work every hour or every day. Many of these people work in ‘safety-related’ fields.  They are your local Police and Fire departments.  They are there whenever you call.  They are the doctors, nurses, and staff at your local hospitals.  They are there when you twist your ankle playing football after Thanksgiving dinner.

There are many others, like pilots and other airline industry workers. Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest travel time of the year. Millions of people fly home to be with families, and members of my union – the National Air Traffic Controllers Association – help to make sure you get there safely.

These union members in safety-related jobs are not the only people who have to give up their holidays to fulfill their duties.  For example, the IBEW members at PSNH who are working or on-call. Or the State Employees (SEA/SEIU1984) who are working the toll booths throughout New Hampshire. I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Millions of people have to work on holidays; unfortunately, that number is going up every year.  This year, that number is going up dramatically.  This is largely in part to the stealing of the Thanksgiving holiday by the retail industry.

As long as I can remember, the day after Thanksgiving was always a special day for shoppers.  People would read the newspaper to see all the specials. They would get up at un-godly hours and stand in lines to be the first in line for that ‘doorbuster’ deal.  Over the last few years that has all changed, and I think it is appalling.

This year, all the major retailers are opening earlier than ever to beat out their competitors.  Best Buy and the Simon Malls are opening at midnight on Friday morning.  The new Merrimack Premium Outlets are opening at 10pm on Thanksgiving Day.  Target, Sears, and Toy R Us will be opening at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day.

This is why I am saying that the retail market is stealing Thanksgiving.

The worst of all is Walmart.

Walmart alone employs 1.4 million people in the U.S.  Around the country, most Walmarts will open at 8pm on Thanksgiving.  But other Walmarts will be open all day.

For instance, the Bedford Walmart is going to be open at 7am, just like any other Thursday.  Except Thanksgiving is not a normal day. This is a special day. This is a day to spend with friends and family enjoying good food and fellowship.  This is not a day to be forced into work at a retail store so the corporation can make extra money on ‘Black Thursday’.

Mary Pat Tifft a Walmart associate and organizer for OUR Walmart stated

“This Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, many Walmart workers have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing for doors to open at 8pm on Thanksgiving night.

My son is coming home from Afghanistan for the holiday, and I would be devastated if I had been scheduled to work. I see the disappointment in the eyes of my co-workers, especially those with young kids, that aren’t going to be able to share the holiday with their families.”

How many of these people are getting ‘Holiday Pay’ or extra pay for giving up their holiday to work? I would guess very few, if any, will – considering that Walmart does not even give the majority of their employees health benefits.

How many of these minimum wage workers would volunteer to work Thanksgiving, if they weren’t required to work?  What is next, opening at 9am on Christmas Day to start the after-Christmas sales?  If this Thanksgiving Day trend continues, what will stop the largest single employer in the U.S. from stealing Christmas, too?

I will do my part to stop this trend, by not shopping on Thanksgiving Day.  I will also be boycotting Walmart this Friday as well, in honor of the OUR Walmart workers who are planning a walkout strike on Black Friday.

Please pledge to ‘Stand With Walmart Strikers‘ and make this Thanksgiving one that Walmart, and all the other retailers, will never forget.

Information about OUR WALMART

OUR Walmart, the associate-led organization that aims to ensure every Walmart employee is treated with respect, raise employee working standards, and improve customer service at Walmart stores nationwide.


This Thanksgiving (and every Thanksgiving) Unions Are Giving Back

The “union-avoidance” industry isn’t taking the election results lying down.  The Andrew Breitbarts of the world are already busy spinning the Hostess Brands liquidation and Wednesday’s planned protest in Los Angeles.  (If you’re wondering: there may be delays on surface streets around LAX – but the protest is not expected to impact any air travel.)

In these days leading up to Thanksgiving, you’re probably going to hear a lot of other anti-union stories in the media.  (The union-busters have a lot of money to spend on PR.)

What you’re probably not going to hear is how union members nationwide are celebrating the holiday.  A quick sampling:

  • In Palm Beach, Florida, labor unions are part of “The Big Heart Brigade”.  Last Thanksgiving, the Brigade fed 100,000 people – and they are hoping to feed even more, this year.   “Several local unions have already donated time and funds to help, including Plumbers and Pipe Fitters (UA) Local 630, Ironworkers Local 402, Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 728, Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 3181 and Machinists (IAM) Local 971.”
  • Feed The Community Day

    Near Los Angeles, ILWU Local 13 is holding their 15th annual “Feed the Community Day”.  They will be distributing 1,500 turkey baskets with all the trimmings to help feed low-income families in surrounding communities.

  • Throughout the country, IAFF Locals are giving coats to kids through “Operation Warm”. IAFF Local 157 is distributing more than 2,000 coats to needy children in Oklahoma City, OK.  IAFF Local 215 is giving away almost 1,000 coats in Milwaukee, WI.  In New Jersey, IAFF Local 2657 is donating 350 coats.  In Pennsylvania, IAFF Local 10 plans to give a new coat to every single child who attends George Washington Elementary School, after firefighters noticed that most students didn’t have anything warmer than a hooded sweatshirt (87% of the school’s families live at or below the poverty line).
  • And of course, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will continue through the holiday.  Nationwide, union members are contributing to various Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds.  Union members in the hardest-hit areas will continue to do what they have been doing for weeks: cleaning up, fixing up, and taking care of the people around them.

This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for our union brothers and sisters.  Our union family is not just standing behind us in our workplaces – unions are giving back to our communities, making things better for families in need.



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