This is the season to be exploited: Store associates are dealing with busy, stressful holidays

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mMillions of Americans flock to stores and malls across the US on Black Friday in an annual mass shopping spree that has become almost as traditional as the Thanksgiving dinner that precedes it.

But as masses of shoppers usher in the holiday season of consumerism, it’s having a huge impact on shoppers and delivery drivers who are busier than ever and facing workplace pressures that can harm their health and safety.

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At Walmart, the largest retailer in the US, John Freeman, a Walmart employee in Dillon, South Carolina, for more than four years, explained that every year from Thanksgiving through Christmas, things get worse for employees. Their workload increases significantly, the attitude of management and customers deteriorates, and work scheduling becomes more rigid, as employees are under pressure to prepare for sales events, for an influx of customers, to keep shelves stocked. keep and to clean.

“The workload is heavy. You have all this stuff that needs to get out and it keeps piling up. We don’t have a lot of people in the store I work at and we’re doing five jobs at a time, keeping records, cleaning up for maintenance, doing trucking, stocking shelves, it’s just a lot around this time of year,” Freeman said. “It’s just been one rollercoaster after another and it not only messes with us physically but also with our mental state because we are being abused by customers and management.”

Freeman noted that Walmart employees do not receive vacation pay and ended quarterly MyShare bonuses last year, with the only benefit being a one-time additional 15% employee discount for working on Black Friday.

“I’ve just come to realize during the holiday season at Walmart, it doesn’t matter, it’s what everyone wants,” he added. “They need to be a little more considerate of their employees and what they’re going through, not just making us feel like we’re in a circuit and we’re there to jump through hoops. Without us to stock your shelves, serve your customers, or maintain your store to keep it running, there would be no Walmart.”

According to a September 2022 National Retail Federation poll, 45% of Christmas shoppers say they are likely to shop on Black Friday this year. Holiday retail sales forecasts forecast a 6-8% sales increase compared to 2021 as holiday retail sales have grown consistently every year since the 2008 economic recession.

At Amazon, the largest online retailer in the US, warehouse workers are entering the company’s peak season in which employees are expected to work mandatory overtime to handle the surge in online orders during the holiday season that kicked off with Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday. Monday.

An employee checks out a Christmas display at a Walmart store in Chicago, Illinois, in 2016. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Reuters

Daniel Olayiwolaa picker at Amazon in San Antonio, Texas, for five years and a member leader of the nonprofit worker advocacy group United for Respect, said the mandatory extra overtime hours during peak seasons are causing problems workers have with productivity quotas, and the fear of being fired if they do. not have accrued enough unpaid time off to be able to take time off or decline required overtime.

Even after five years Olayiwola said he still experiences the anxiety caused by notes and the constant risk of being fired.

“They schedule you an extra day and an extra hour a day, so instead of working 40 hours a week, you could work 55 or 60 hours a week and you have no choice. People don’t realize they’re stuck in the situation until they realize it’s the end of the year, they don’t have any unpaid time off and they have an emergency and really need to stop working, but when they stop working, they’ They’re going to lose their jobs and that’s just sad,” said Olayiwola.

He added: “The way they beat you up and the way they constantly make you look over your shoulder because of the rates, the amount of idle time you have to go to the toilet, the free time, it has stressed people out. out, and people are really just trying to keep a job during the pandemic and because of the inflationary situation that we have.

During the holiday season, Amazon is hiring thousands of temporary workers, with 150,000 seasonal employees hired by the company for the 2022 holiday season. Olayiwola argued that the influx of seasonal workers contributes to the frenetic atmosphere during the peak season because many of them lack experience have or are not trained well enough.

“You get a lot of this fake hype and fake excitement around peak season when you don’t at all,” he added. “People who work at Amazon during the high season are not having a good time. It is very difficult for you to add extra days and hours to people’s schedules without any possibility of coming or not coming. They literally offer us pizza parties, as if we were in primary school.”

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