State Lawmaker Wants Retailers To Pay High Thanksgiving Wages

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The day after Thanksgiving has traditionally been the start of the holiday shopping season. But this year, many retailers plan to open their doors with special sales on Thanksgiving itself. One Democratic State lawmaker says mandating employees work on that day is not right. And in an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Democrat Mike Foley explains he is introducing a bill that would require employers to pay much more to workers who work during that time.

"It really bugs me," Foley said to Jo Ingles of the Statehouse News Bureau. "There’s already all of these pressures that we have around the holiday time for families and communities and these pressures that consumerism puts on us kind of adds to the burden. So I think if any retailer is going to open up on Thursday now and on Friday, you know from Friday before their normal opening hours, that they should pay more. They should pay at least triple what they normally pay. If they are going to put the workers who have to deal with craziness, messes when thousands of shoppers come for the Black Friday sales, that workers who have to put up with all of that stuff should be paid much more than what they are being paid on an hourly basis normally."

"Some retailers already pay time and a half for working on those days. Is that not good enough?" Ingles said.

"Yea, I’m assuming they do but I don’t think that’s good enough," Foley said. "I think that if retailers are going to try to encroach on Thanksgiving, a day that traditionally families get together to thank all of the things we are grateful for in our society and culture and democracy, if retailers are going to force people to come in to work, then they ought to pay more than a time and a half….maybe three times what they pay and maybe that’s not even enough. But if retailers are going to try to exploit the consumerist culture that exists in Ohio and America, then I think the people who have to take the burden and brunt of this should be paid a lot more than what they are."

Ingles asked: "Let me ask you this. We have a legislature that traditionally has not liked to jump into these types of things, make these kind of mandates, are reluctant to force the raising of wages, saying it will cost jobs. You don’t really expect this to pass the legislature, do you?"

"Here’s what I know. I’m a legislator from Cleveland Ohio and as a legislator, I have an opportunity and obligation to speak out on things that are wrong or to help make things better," Foley said. "This kind of hit me pretty deeply yesterday as we were sitting around drinking coffee, reading the paper. And I said “I’m a legislator. I should act and try to impact, in some degree, this kind of encroachment on our civil society.” That’s what I’m doing. Whether it passes or not, I’m a liberal Democrat in a very conservative Republican leaning body and I know the score of how these things get racked up. But I also think there are other ways to influence on how things happen and speaking out on issues like this are part of my job.

Ingles: "And I assume we are not going to see you out shopping on Thanksgiving Day or in those Black Friday crowds on Black Friday, huh?"

"You are not going to, no," Foley said, chuckling.

Democratic State Representative Mike Foley says he expects to introduce his legislation soon…hopefully before Thanksgiving.