Connie Miller isnâ€™t really sure when sheâ€™s going to be able to get some sleep over the next three days.
Sheâ€™ll be working at Kohlâ€™s the day before Thanksgiving, on the holiday itself, and on Black Friday. Her shift on Wednesday ends at 12:30 a.m., and with her half-hour commute, sheâ€™ll be home by 1 a.m. Then sheâ€™ll have to wake up early so she can get an entire Thanksgiving meal for 15 family members cooked and ready to eat by the time they start to arrive at her house from all over the country at noon. Sheâ€™ll leave that celebration at 5, arriving at work by 5:30 and working until just after midnight. Then sheâ€™ll have to be back at work on Black Friday by 6 in the morning for another eight-and-a-half hour shift. â€śThey donâ€™t even give you time to come home and actually go to sleep before youâ€™re due back,â€ť she said.
â€śItâ€™s tough, itâ€™s just really tough being open on Thanksgiving,â€ť she added. â€śI just plan on doing a lot of Red Bull.â€ť
The experience has cast a pallor over her holidays. She knows what itâ€™s going to be like having done nearly the same thing last year. â€śYou hate the holidays. Itâ€™s exhausting,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s not a fun time. Itâ€™s a time to be dreaded. Because I canâ€™t be with my family.â€ť
Kohlâ€™s did not respond to a request for comment. But itâ€™s not the only employer making its employees jump through hoops to be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Eleven brands will be open on the holiday this year, and employees at Kmart, for example, say they werenâ€™t given the option to volunteer or sign up for shifts that fit their schedules and can even risk being fired if they call out for a scheduled holiday shift.
Miller wasnâ€™t given any option to pick her holiday schedule. She says she and her coworkers have been told that theyâ€™re not allowed to ask for any time off during the week of Thanksgiving or the week of Christmas. She fears that if she were to call out on Thanksgiving Day, she would be all but dropped from future schedules, losing her income. Sheâ€™s not sure she would do it anyway. â€śIâ€™d kind of like to call off, weâ€™d all like to call off. But all itâ€™s going to is make the people I work with in jewelry, their night even harder,â€ť she said. â€śTheyâ€™re going to have to hustle even more because Iâ€™m not there.â€ť
While sheâ€™s technically a part-time employee, she will be scheduled for far more than the typical 25-26 hours a week during these times. But itâ€™s not like sheâ€™s given much heads up. She only found out her Thanksgiving schedule ten days ago â€” leaving little time to adjust holiday plans â€” and still doesnâ€™t know when sheâ€™ll have to work during the Christmas season. â€śThey disrespect us so incredibly by not even telling us the most basic thing,â€ť she said. All without any promise of extra holiday pay.
She finds the whole ordeal particularly ironic at her store. It plays a promo on its overhead speakers telling shoppers that it values family, she said. â€śWeâ€™re working on Thanksgivingâ€¦ If you valued family, weâ€™d be at home.â€ť
This blog originally appeared at ThinkProgress.org on NovemberÂ 25, 2015. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Bryce Covert is the Economic Policy Editor for ThinkProgress. She was previously editor of the Roosevelt Instituteâ€™s Next New Deal blog and a senior communications officer. She is also a contributor for The Nation and was previously a contributor for ForbesWoman. Her writing has appeared on The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Nation, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and others. She is also a board member of WAM!NYC, the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media.