Assemblywoman proposes double-time pay for retail employees working on Thanksgiving

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said Wednesday she plans to make changes to her proposed legislation that would require paying retail employees double-time if they have to work on Thanksgiving.

Her original bill, introduced last December, would have mandated double-time pay for working specified "family holidays" unless they're covered by a collective bargaining agreement, work for a company with 25 or fewer employees, or is a first responder or other sort of emergency worker.

The legislation passed two committees but failed 34-29 on the Assembly floor in June.

She said she would change the bill to involve only Thanksgiving and cover retailers with 500 or more employees.

"If large retailers increasingly want to be open on Thanksgiving, they should share their holiday profits with the very workers that are being forced away from their families," Gonzalez said.

Her legislation was spawned out of criticism of large retailers that opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on Black Friday sales. Some store chains plan to open in the morning, while others will start around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. Many of the retailers have increased their hours over the last few years to compete with online sales.

"Not just on Black Friday, not just midnight on Black Friday, but well into the day on Thanksgiving," Gonzalez said.

The assemblywoman contends that some companies threatened to fire employees if they refused to work on Thanksgiving.

Many major retailers, like Target, already sweeten the pay for Thanksgiving workers.

The McDonalds on Park Boulevard in downtown San Diego will be open for limited hours on Thanksgiving Day, but when it comes to the hourly rate the employees are getting paid, nothing's going to change.

The restaurant closes at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but one employee said she's not getting holiday pay even though she has to work.

"You're taking away from the family when you have people work on a holiday, so they should be accommodated monetarily," said customer Marcus Owens.

Gonzalez said she would like to help fast food employees, who have been pushing for $15 an hour, but there isn't the political will.

So, she's sticking to retail.

"You have to start somewhere; it is clear we are targeting an industry that can choose to do more," Gonzalez said.

The local McDonald's franchise co-op declined to comment.

Gonzalez said her bill would still help some seasonal or non-union retail workers who may not get a pay boost on Thanksgiving.

Gonzalez said her original bill, which included Christmas, brought concerns from business groups and hotels, who felt they had to stay open on the holidays.

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