The only people more miserable on Thanksgiving than those stuck in airports are the poor souls being forced to work against their will. And now, the employees of at least two companies — Whole Foods and Pizza Hut — are standing up against having to work Thanksgiving for fear of losing their jobs. Following on the heels of other Whole Foods strikes in the past few weeks, employees at two Chicago stores walked out on Wednesday to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the status quo. About ten employees were expected to take part, along with numerous supporters.
“I think it will be disruptive, but that’s kind of the point: to disrupt the flow of things,” Matthew Camp, a Whole Foods employee and member of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, told Salon. “Causing a disruption also provides us with a platform — you know, we have to make some noise to get our point across.” (Whole Foods emphasized the need to be there for customers during the holiday.)
In a separate incident, a Pizza Hut manager in Elkhart, Indiana, claims he was fired after refusing to force his employees to work on Thanksgiving. The man, Tony Rohr, had worked his way up the Pizza Hut ladder to eventually become a general manager. He says he stood up against mandatory opening rules at a meeting with supervisors.
"I said, 'Why can't we be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off?'" he told WSBT. When asked to sign a resignation letter, Rohr says he refused. But when WSBT contacted Rohr's superiors, they said that Rohr had quit.
Now, there's no problem with working on Thanksgiving — inherently anyway. Surely, there are many who could use the extra cash and wouldn't mind picking up a holiday shift. There's not even a legal problem with mandating that employees come in. But that doesn't change the fact that it's still kind of an asshole move.
Sure, there are essential services that must be provided 365 days a year, and other non-essential ones (hi Pizza Hut!) that we like having around just in case. But the way to get people to work those days is to offer incentives and take volunteers. After all, nothing can ruin a Thanksgiving lunch like a run-in with an unhappy Pizza Hut worker, or a bitter checkout worker at Whole Foods.