The dark side of earlier Black Friday: Millions of workers miss Thanksgiving with family

Labor threatens to strike against Walmart

TAMPA - By one count, over 2 million people have signed online petitions asking Target to reverse their decision to open at 9 PM Thursday.  Sears, Kmart and Walmart have all scheduled their Black Friday sales to begin right about the time the plates are cleared and dessert is served on Thanksgiving night.

"Walmart is concerned about making profit like any corporation should.  At the same time, it has to be respectful of the workers who come and help them do that," said Tim Heberlein of the Florida Consumer Action Network in Tampa.

Heberlein isn't calling for a strike, but labor advocates across the country are.  Walmart is worried enough to have filed a lawsuit against a union for trying to disrupt their business.

A local Walmart spokeswoman in Tampa says customers have asked for an earlier start to the sales and most employees are eager to work.

"We've got one million that are ready to serve our customers this holiday season and they're excited and they're amped and ready for the season to start," said Veronica Marshall.

Walmart employees who want to continue to be Walmart employees are understandably reluctant to complain, so there's no telling how many will join the call to phone in sick or walk off the job this week.
 
USF Marketing instructor Carol Osborne says the decision to keep the wheels of commerce in perpetual motion may cost retailers some goodwill.

"If I was giving advice to Walmart, I would say, 'do the right thing.'  Let your employees have this national holiday off and go back to Black Friday," said Osborne.

There are dozens of Black Friday deals, sales, ads, tips, tricks, and surprises in the ABC Action News 2012 Black Friday Shopping Guide. See the entire shopping guide at wfts.tv/2012blackfriday.

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