Thursday, December 05, 2013

Letter to the Editor: Rep. Lesser's Proposition of Triple Overtime on Thanksgiving Draws Questions

State Representative for Middletown Matt Lesser (D-100th District) would like to have retail stores closed on Thanksgiving, and those which stay open be mandated to pay employees triple overtime.  The representative held a press conference at the capital  on November 26th with Union Labor representatives from the AFL-CIO along side him, expressing full support of the proposed measure. Last year, Connecticut lawmakers voted to allow stores to sell alcohol on Sundays, modifying one of the states decades old "blue laws."

In September, Lesser attended rallies in Middletown along side fellow Working Family party candidates Phil Pessina and Carl Chisem, in support of fast-food workers who wanted minimum rage raised Workers at Subway in Harford held on protest demanding $15 an hour for minimum wage in August of this year. On January 26, 2013, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee is scheduled to hear testimony Thursday on a bill that would raise the current rate of $8.25 an hour to $9 on July 1, and to $9.75 an hour on July 1, 2014.

Below David Greaves*, a Middletown resident responds to Lesser's proposed bill. All opinions expressed in letters to the editor are that of the writer and not necessarily that of the Middletown Insider blog staff.

*Editors note: Greaves was a candidate for Assessment Appeals in the 2013 Municipal Election cycle.  --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Matt,
Help me figure this out.
You are proposing a bill that you were quoted as saying “the idea was born in reaction to news that retailers like Walmart, Staples, Macy’s and Target are planning to open
for Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day.”

Sorry to be the one to break the bad news to you, but you are not the father - this baby was conceived, born, delivered and acted upon, in two other states, before your “idea” was even a twinkle in your eye. 

You also state that “Thanksgiving is a time when residents should be with their families, not forced to cater to Black Friday crowds,” Lesser said. “This is about basic family values.”

….YET your proposed legislation would curtail the practice by forcing retailers who want to open on Thanksgiving to pay their employees triple overtime. So Matt, are you trying to say that family values have a price tag? And is the price for those “family values” triple over time? Why not just be closed period?
Lastly – You posted on Facebook, with what seem to be some pride;” 

Ad from The Middletown Press website... at least unlike WalMart and other stores they're
not forcing their workers to work all day. Save Thanksgiving!” 

The ad you mentioned was that for Westfarms Mall who plans on opening their doors
at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day. Since what appears to be your acceptance of such (by your post) you are OK with a 8pm opening on Thanksgiving Day…um… will your proposed bill reflect it being OK to open at 8pm on Thanksgiving or will it be from 12am to 11:59pm Thanksgiving Day?

David Greaves, Middletown


  1. MPO:
    I believe that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving, but if that can't be and workers are faced with the choice between showing up or losing their job, then stores should be forced to pay them tripple time for their inconvenience.
    That being said, I disagree with raising the minimum wage. Fast food type jobs were never meant to provide enough to raise a family on. How much are you willing to pay for your cheeseburger? Have no delusions that companies will not pass the cost along to the consumer. Instead, I would like to see funding chanelled into helping people get educated (college or trade schools) so that they can find jobs and work to earn the money they need to live independantly and raise families.

  2. You can see the demise of the Thanksgiving holiday as further evidence of the success of national chains at the expense of local firms. The local owners have enough of a bond to employees and their own families to take the day off. The national chains are profit-driven zombies with no consideration for the sanctity of traditions that do not benefit the bottom line.
    The choice for local firms is to work Thanksgiving, or forfeit a huge amount of business to those who do. I am not a big fan of banning private operations from doing what they want to do, but a regulation like this might help level the playing field. Another poison pill could include applying enormous sales taxes on our high holidays.
    Big businesses are eroding are cultural integrity with their insatiable greed. Matt's got the right idea to push back.

  3. Welcome to the nanny state where big government will set the terms as to when we can shop and how much the workers will be compensated. If the terms of your employment require you to work holidays, you have the choice to seek other employment. Employers also have the option of hiring temporary help and letting the workers enjoy their holidays while others cash in. I prefer to stay home on Thanksgiving but many apparently prefer to shop based on feedback from retailers. Matt needs to stay in his lane!

  4. Big government is big business's nanny to a degree unhealthy for small businesses. If state government doesn't rally to the side of the home team, we could lose the liberty to patronize our neighbor's stores on any day.


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