November 28, was “Black Friday”, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, though many stores were open on November 27. The day also, once again, marked an opportunity to call attention to the treatment of employees by businesses like Wal-Mart. This years demonstrations took on an added dimension as those protesting the decison not to indict Ferguson, Missouri, Police Office Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown joined with those demanding better wages, etc.
December 1 has become “Cyber Monday”, the day for on-line retailers to start their holiday season, and this means pressure on the folks in the warehouse and shipping industries. I have experienced both of these environments.
Warehouses will likely, if they have not already, brought in the temporary workers. Many of these workers are students, and several are from foreign countries. They will find themselves under pressure to meet performance standards and work long hours, especially as Christmas gets closer. The week of Christmas, most of them will be having to look for temporary work, perhaps handling the returns.
Those who work for companies like FedEx will find themselves in a simlar predicament. The weeks leading up to Christmas are what is known as “peak”, when I worked at FedEx ground, the hours for full-time employees were carefully pored over. The part-time employees were called on, though, to take up the slack of the full-timers. I would later find out that since I left FedEx Ground, they now do allow for overtime. It’s the months after Christmas, from January to March, that things can get slow. I remember hearing that employees would apply for, and file for, unemployment compensation until volume picked up.
But what can people do to help with this? One idea may be to think local, churches, etc will be doing craft fairs where local, handmade goods will be for sale. If one has the talent, make something. I became known for my clever and creative computer generated presents. Gift cards are another idea, let the recipient decide.