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Holiday season means extra stress for retail workers

Stuart Apelbaum | President, RWDSU | 12/17/2015, 5:21 p.m.
Working in the retail industry, any time of year can be a challenge.
Stuart Appelbaum

Working in the retail industry, any time of year can be a challenge. But for the holiday season, it can be downright daunting for workers tasked with handling everything from crowds of holiday shoppers to the flood of post-holiday returns.

For many RWDSU members, employed at retail stores such as Macy’s, Modell’s Sporting Goods and Bloomingdale’s, it’s the most stressful time of year. Big crowds, irritable customers, long hours and the need for workers themselves to take care of their own holiday obligations can all weigh heavy on workers’ shoulders. Too many shoppers don’t appreciate the pressure that retail workers are under this time of year.

Especially for retail workers in non-union stores, the stress of the holidays is stacked on top of the daily obstacles they face every day of the year: insufficient hours, poverty wages that won’t support families and unpredictable scheduling that makes it difficult to work another job, plan child care or attend school. Non-union retail workers may be forced to work when they don’t want to, regardless of their own holiday plans, and they likely won’t be compensated fairly for working holiday time. For these workers, it can be a struggle just to survive—to say nothing of providing their families with a joyous holiday.

With a union, workers have the assistance of contract protections, a voice in the workplace and a way to effectively communicate their concerns with management. They can make their jobs better and create better lives by coming together and joining a union.

This holiday season, if you are working in retail, hang in there and call on your fellow workers and your union for support and assistance. And for everyone, when you are doing your holiday shopping, take some time to consider the stress the workers who are helping create holiday memories are under. Lend a smile and some patience to workers and your fellow shoppers. It’s the time of year we can all give a little back and do our best to spread good will.