That was then, this is now. My pay was lousy back in the 70s, but adjusting for inflation, minimum wage is lower today. People should all be paid better and, maybe as important, we should give more than lip service to valuing family. Even minimum wage workers should have time with families. Too often they have no choice.
My mother was adamantly opposed to Blue Laws, which were still in effect when I was a girl. I agreed that closing businesses on Sundays was ridiculous until twenty years or more ago when a Canadian friend pointed out that it supported family time for many low-paid workers. For families with children, Sunday might be the only time they have together. I hadn't thought about that before, and I changed my mind about Blue Laws. They accomplished something. They served a significant demographic that included many in the community I serve today. Now, with parents in many families I know working two or three jobs, all badly paid, this idea of leaving a few days a week or a year off the schedule seems even more important.
Several people have insisted to me that it should be the choice of the employee whether to work on holidays. That's a nice idea, but I don't know of a business that chooses its hours of operation based on when its employees want to work. More often, days off and holidays off are limited by hours of operation. Entire seasons are blocked off from any time off, and mandatory overtime, legal or not, is often required of the most vulnerable workers. Overtime looks great, but a minimum wage worker shouldn't have to work crazy hours to make a decent wage or to keep a job, and that's the choice they must make all too often.
Stores staying open late and in the middle of the night may be convenient for a few, but they also unnecessarily force people to work schedules that are unhealthy. My husband worked in grocery stores for many years, and always had stories about hysterical people banging on his door after they'd closed because they needed whipping cream. Do without the whipped cream. The pie will still be delicious. I do not understand why the lowest paid should be made to suffer for my poor planning. It's always the most badly paid who are inconvenienced this way. It drives me crazy.
I am going to make a serious effort to never again shop EVER at anyplace that opens on Thanksgiving. Not ever again! Penny's, Old Navy, Kmart, ToysRus, Bon-Ton (Elder-Beerman), Walmart, Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s, Target,Staples, Victoria’s Secret, Office Depot/OfficeMax, Field & Stream, Cincinnati Premium Outlets (Monroe), Tanger Outlets — You are all dead to me.
It is only some elite workers who get to chose their hours. Nurses have no choice. Neither do others who provide the most essential services. Hospitals must stay open, utility workers and police and firefighters all work whether they want to or not.
There are always opportunities to work during holidays in order to avoid family and for people who have none—soup kitchens are open and other charities need workers. Again, I do not believe for-profit businesses make decisions about when to stay open based on the convenience of their employees.
If customers make clear that they do not need or want a store open on Thanksgiving, many people who would have preferred to stay home with their families would have that choice. Others can volunteer someplace in order to get out of the house.