Holiday shopping ‘hell’: workers brace for unruly customers and labor strikes

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Isabella Burroughs, 19, started working at PetSmart in Michigan just before the holiday shopping season in 2020. We didn’t have enough people to deal with such a crowd. We had three registers and there were lines around and outside the door for how much traffic we had,” Burroughs said.

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This year, Burroughs is scheduled to work from 3 to 11.30 p.m. on Black Friday at a store an hour from where she lives. She was moved from a nearby store in May after complaining to Human Resources that her manager had turned her down and dismissed her, two days after the tragic death of her 12-year-old brother.

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Although her new store has different managers, she is afraid to ask management anything, while still dealing with trauma from her previous store incident, ongoing concerns about COVID-19, and the store Ready for the influx of traffic and aggressive customers. During the holiday shopping season.

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Holiday shoppers line the registers for Black Friday deals at the Old Navy store in Times Square on November 28, 2019 in New York. Photograph: Brendan McDiarmid/Reuters

“For everything that inconveniences customers, it affects us just as much. We don’t have control over the prices in our stores or how much product we receive,” said Burroughs, who is also a member of the advocacy group United for Respect. Huh. “I think there’s something that people sometimes forget: that we are people, too.”

Have retail sales in November and December Be expected According to the National Retail Federation, to grow between 8.5% and 10.5% – an all-time record – compared to 2020. And this despite ongoing supply chain issues, the decision to close some retailers including Walmart and Target on Thanksgiving, and continued employers’ struggle to find and retain enough workers.

“The week of Thanksgiving and Black Friday at Christmas is the worst time of year to work at Walmart, especially for cashiers and self-checkout hosts, as huge volumes of customers flood stores and become unsteady and angry over the issues.” It’s under our control, as if the merchandise they want is out of stock,” said Peter Naughton, a Walmart cashier and self-checkout host in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “We all deserve better and more respect, appreciation, better compensation and the understanding that we are not robots but humans.”

An Amazon employee, who requested anonymity, described Amazon’s peak season, where workers have to work extra shifts to meet the surge in demand from holiday shopping, as “hell.”

“The summit is hell,” said the worker. “Sometimes you don’t know your schedule until a day in advance and that’s when you need HR for something waiting in line during your break. It seems that the turnover rate of most HR employees is as high as the rest of the building, so you are constantly getting false information from HR. ,

A woman works at a packing station at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Staten Island on February 5, 2019.
A woman works at a packing station at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Staten Island on February 5, 2019. Photograph: Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

During peak season, their weekly shifts are increased from three 12-hour overnight shifts to five 11-hour shifts. The worker lost a 15-minute break by reducing the 12-hour shift to 11 hours, the worker said.

“They actually monitor work hours and supervisors are telling people what their rate is and telling them they need to be faster and work harder,” the worker said. “Reporting one injury, and there will be many during peak, to AmCare” [Amazon’s on-site health centers] Usually not worth it because your manager has to be with you and you are questioned by security, emcare and management and the actual treatment is usually Tylenol, an ice pack or a heating pack, maybe some parts and back to work.”

Many activist protests in the US and abroad are planned for Black Friday this year pay amazon Campaign to prompt Amazon to pay workers fairly, pay their taxes, and pay for the environmental impacts of their supply chains.

AAA. With this, holiday travel is also expected to increase this year. 13% growth forecast In Thanksgiving holiday travel, compared to last year, almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and an estimated 80% rebound in air travel. Deloitte predicts holiday travel expenses would be comparable with pre-pandemic levels.

For low-wage essential workers in the retail and travel industries, the spike in demand during the holidays provides an opportunity for employers to increase wages, benefits and improve working conditions these workers sacrificed during the pandemic Is.

Across the US, airport workers have held strikes and protests demanding pay increases, improved working conditions and benefits Tampa, Florida, Orlando Florida; Houston; Denver, And marvel,

Amazon employees protest in Santa Monica, California on May 24.
Amazon employees protest in Santa Monica, California on May 24. Photograph: Frederick J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

On November 18, contract workers at Orlando International Airport organized a one day strike For better pay, because many workers are paid less than minimum wage, they are forced to rely on tips they often don’t get, while severely underpaid workers work.

Gate agent and wheelchair attendant Joseph Gourgue Sr., 61, works at one of the busiest airports in the US, earning only $9 an hour with no benefits or paid time off. They have worked through the pandemic, and left without pay, until Covid-19 was caught earlier this year.

“They don’t pay us enough,” said Gorgue, who described his job as providing social functions for travelers in addition to customer service. “Thousands and thousands of kids come here to go to Disney World with their parents. I am grandfather I would love to bring my grandchildren to Disney World, but can’t due to lack of pay and unpaid leave. I can’t even take a vacation in November or December.”

Airport workers picket in Houston against November 17 for higher pay.

Teresa McClatchy, an escalator security guard at the airport for six years, worked through the pandemic before her pay was recently raised to $12 an hour, from just $9 an hour earlier.

She receives no affordable convalescence, and has continued to work through the pain and swelling from a neck injury caused by a car accident.

“I had surgery on July 15. The next Monday, I had to work. If I don’t come to work, I’ll be fired,” McClatchy said. “Completing on salary is always a challenge because to get an apartment, you have to pay at least two or three times the rent and you can’t do what we do, so we have to do two or three or so. Four things to do.”

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