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Best Buy Worker Joins Black Friday Backlash

Now you can add Best Buy to the list of retailers facing backlash from employees who have been told to cut short their turkey time so they can help bargain-hunters shop for discount goodies in the wee hours of Black Friday/Thanksgiving night.

The Minneapolis StarTribune reports that Rick Melaragni, a Best Buy worker in Florida, has started a petition on Change.org seeking to change the Black Friday opening time to 5a.m.

“A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation — all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night’s rest on Thanksgiving!” Melaragni writes. Hard to argue with that. Nearly 8,300 people have already signed the petition.

Anthony Hardwick, a part-time worker for Target, has also launched a petition that has gotten almost 156,000 signatures. He says he’s meant to start work at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night but would also like to see the opening time pushed to 5 a.m.

According to the AP, in these tough economic times, retailers want to be sure to get a jump on holiday dollars and customers are asking for the earlier opening times. However, survey results released earlier this week by ConsumerSearch.com show that 87 percent of consumers think retail stores should stay closed on Thanksgiving Day. After all, if the store opens at midnight and they want to get the deals, it means that consumers have to be in the stores at these horrible hours also.

Indeed that’s what one New York Times article argues, with other possible negative shopping consequences in the offing.

As one retail worker points out in that AP story, she’s thankful just to have a job nowadays, and realizes that retail work means holiday hours. It’s likely that a number of people share this woman’s view and for extra pay and an extra day off, there would have been enough volunteers to work these hours and avoid media coverage of beleaguered worker frustrations at a time when we’re thinking about Occupy Wall Street and castrated unions. Having worked a Black Friday opening during my short stint as a publicist, I know the sinking feeling when the alarm goes off at 2a.m. Some added perks and compromise are definitely in order.

We’ll also be curious to see how consumers ultimately react to these earlier openings. In theory, everyone wants to save money. But in practice, who knows if that same level of eager will be there after all the cooking, eating, and fighting is done.

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