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OPINION - Working holidays

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU)  I work on many holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are work days for me. You’ll find me guest-hosting the WSAU Wisconsin Morning News this Thursday so the some of my co-workers can have the day off. I work on Christmas Eve because we need someone to engineer the Zion Lutheran Church broadcast. I don’t have the heart to call in one of our part-timers to work an hour. I also run engineer the Christmas Day church broadcast… forcing my kids to wait until 11am to open their presents once I get home.

Truth is, I’ve come not to mind a little bit of work interrupting the holidays. I still eat my Thanksgiving meal with family. I still tuck my kids in at night before Santa’s big ride. If I had the choice, I’d prefer to be off. But I’ve also realized years ago that broadcasting – a career that I love – is a 24/7 operation that requires hours that aren’t asked of people who choose other careers.

People who work for airlines, railroads, police departments, hospitals, etc have also made similar career choices. These are trade-offs that are made voluntarily. Hopefully the satisfaction of working these jobs more than offsets having to work some holidays.

So I’m puzzled about the complaining from people in the retail sector. Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And for as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people who stock shelves or man customer service desks or work cash registers complain about it. It’s unfathomable that someone who makes their living selling things wants a day off when their customers are most-ready to buy. Their employers are not being unreasonable by insisting that their staff come into work.

Now the holiday shopping season is spreading into Thanksgiving, and there are more worker complaints. Experts say Thanksgiving shopping will be about one-third of the sales of Black Friday, but still a significant retail day. Stores are open because people are willing to shop after eating their meal. Stores are in the business of meeting consumer demand.

Wal Mart, often the whipping boy for the mean retail sector, offers workers a small hourly increase for working on Sunday. And they offer similar bumps for workers who are scheduled on holidays. Workers who stay with the company for a year get a holiday bonus based on their store’s end-of-year profits. They also get to do their holiday shopping at a 10% discount. All of this seems like a fair deal for the inconvenience of having to work a holiday schedule. And workers who don’t like it are free to apply at Target, where the hourly pay is better but the bonuses are (sometimes) smaller. But, of course, if you’re a complainer it’ll be harder to land a job somewhere else.

Worker complaints like this are part of the victim mentality. No one is victimized by their employer; work is voluntary. Don’t like it? Then you have a responsibility to yourself to work towards a job you’ll like better.

Chris Conley
11.25.13