This is Dan Levler of Suffolk AME –the union workforce that makes Suffolk County work. Our members work during the holidays, even on Christmas Day. They are on the job and on call while most spend time with their loved ones. The DPW, security, FRES, Sheriff civilian, Police Emergency, and nurses, to name a few. But we aren’t the only ones working holidays, Suffolk AME recognizes all working people who don’t have off. Happy Holidays from SuffolkAme.org, Suffolk County Works because We Do.
Millions of Americans will work on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, and many of them are not in the retail industry.
Andrew Bishop, a correctional officer, will report for duty at a Milwaukee prison for his usual 10 p.m.-6 a.m. shift on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Teresa Bair, a travel nurse currently on assignment in Mesa, Ariz., is scheduled for a 12-hour shift at an area hospital on Thanksgiving. Morgantown Utility Board will staff its usual shifts — two people on each of two, 12-hour shifts — to make sure more than 100,000 residents of Morgantown, W.Va., continue to have access to water, says spokesman Chris Dale.
While retail workers have elicited increasing public outrage over holiday scheduling, particularly in recent years as stores have moved opening hours into Thanksgiving, employees in industries including law enforcement, healthcare, travel, utilities, freight, and news also all work over the holidays.
A quarter of Americans will be required to work on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or New Year's Day this year, according to Allstate/National Journal's annual Heartland Monitor poll, out this month. But more, 45%, said there's at least a chance they will work one of those holidays.
Rachel Barnhart, an anchor at WROC-TV in Rochester, N.Y., says she has worked most holidays since she became a news reporter 16 years ago. This year she has a rare Thanksgiving off.
"My mom is thrilled that she doesn't have to wait until I'm done with the 6 p.m. news to serve dinner," she says.
Bishop, 34, says he has worked almost every Thanksgiving since starting his job eight years ago.
"It's kind of a bummer," he says. "It's really kind of a harder day because it's the one day you know there's nobody in that building that wants to be there."
For many industries that have adopted 24/7 scheduling, staffing holidays is the same as any other day of the year. The majority of Norfolk Southern railroad company's 30,000 employees will work on Thanksgiving this week, says spokeswoman Susan Terpay. "All the things that are on your Thanksgiving table were delivered in part by railroads," she says.
Alarm over retailers' increasingly early hours on Thanksgiving, requiring employees to work the holiday, seems to grow every year. It has sparked petitions and protests by employees or their family members who argue the day should be spent at home. A petition on Change.org to have Target stay closed on the holiday this year had nearly 99,400 supporters as of Monday evening.
Meanwhile, many of the major retailers are moving up their hours. Target, Sears, Kohl's, J.C. Penney, Macy's and Best Buy are opening doors at either 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year. Many opened at 8 p.m. last year. Most Walmart stores are already open 24/7, and Kmart will open at 6 a.m.
Some of the outrage over retail employees having to work holidays comes from the fact they're in a consumer-facing business, says Rose Batt, a professor at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
"They're in people's face," she says. "Other workers who have to work these holidays are kind of more out of sight."
Other workers are also likely in industries where 24/7 staffing is already the norm, she says, unlike retail, where many employees work part-time and make at or near minimum wage. Bair, 46, says that with a career in healthcare, she's used to not being home for Thanksgiving. She and her husband won't do anything together this year. Instead, they'll likely go out to dinner on her next day off. But not for turkey. "We both like Mexican too well," she says.