Metro Philadelphia: Black Friday means extra headaches for low-wage workers

Originally published 11/24/2017

Despite the internet, the infamous post-Thanksgiving consumerist holiday of Black Friday is still one of the biggest revenue days for major stores.

But the low-wage retail employees who staff the nation's biggest box stores aren't seeing any of that pie.

For Madison Nardy, 20, a beauty team worker at Target in South Philly who is scheduled to work from 5:30 pm to midnight on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, the hours aren't just a toll on her: They detract from her being able to do her job well.

"Of course," Nardy said when asked if she had to work Black Friday. "I'm definitely cranky, I'm definitely exhausted and tired, and it does reflect on my work ability. … Because I'm constantly tired, I'm not motivated to help people or talk to people, even though that's what I love to do."

Nardy is earning $11.50 an hour as a part-time Target employee, while studying theater full-time at the Community College of Philadelphia. After a year and a half, she still mostly works night shifts, she said, which are hard because she has safety concerns taking public transit home at night and often has class early the next morning.

"Target was my first job, so I kind of entered with an open mind," the South Philly born-and-raised resident told Metro. "At first I figured this is just how retail is, you just have to live with it, but as the months went on, I realized nobody should have to live like this, nobody should have to work 'til midnight every night."

Nardy is now working with OnePA, a nonprofit advocating for low-income workers, to raise awareness about the issues retail workers face. Out of some 120,000-130,000 retail workers in Philadelphia, more than 60 percent are women and 25 percent are part-time.

"A number of Philly retail workers have begun to work together to raise awareness and build solidarity around the unfair, insufficient and erratic scheduling they face across the city," OnePA said in a statement. "All year long, low-paid retail workers are subject to irregular and insufficient hours, and Black Friday represents the height of unfair scheduling."

David Delgado, 20, a part-time sales associate for a year at Old Navy in Center City, born and raised in North Philadelphia, earns around $11 an hour, a little above minimum wage. He said seasonal workers hired during the holiday rush get extra hours, instead of more senior employees.

"They'd rather give it to a seasonal worker because they can work them out more and don't have to pay them the same amount of money," he said. "We're like cats and dogs, like we're not even humans. … When it comes to holidays like Black Friday, like Christmas, it gets worse, it's like slavery."

Target's and Old Navy's corporate offices did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.