Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black Friday Augustans Left Out in the Cold

Millions of dollars are spent and earned every year on BLACK Friday ....that is except in Augusta, Georgia.

Transit commuters in Augusta who are going to work will have to find alternative options on what is known commercially as the busiest day of the year in order to reach their work sites and shoppers trying to take advantage of sales on everything from clothing to electronics will be abandoned at their bus shelters. No bus will leave the depot on this day and hasn't in years. When will we agree to right this wrong? 

When reviewing the list of holidays, used to mean holy days, one can't help but note that only two of the nine listed on the bus information list are actually holy days. Even in foreign cities where people celebrate more holidays than we do, the buses run regardless.

Other cities more comparable to us in size, like Macon and Columbus would never consider ignoring their obligation to help residents get to work, recreation and yes, shopping on Friday, November 29.

Also please don't let the fact that the City government in Augusta has been recognized nationally as a Digital City give you the impression that all of our citizens are plugged in. They are not. Neither are they all shopping on Amazon and if they were all of those taxes accompanying their online purchases will go to the Feds not local businesses. 

When all cities and municipalities look hopefully toward a more vigorous economy they are employing many incentives to attract consumers from every socioeconomic level to earn more money and purchase more goods. Why not Augusta?

While Groupon and other gimmicks lure us to valuable savings to be taken advantage of at this time of giving, can't we give more of the public the same advantages? Our community wants more ways to stretch a dollar available to them not fewer. Offer transit commuters the same opportunities as the general public to save a buck at a time when we need it most. 

Reduce the barriers to reaching jobs and increase the taxpayers purchasing power on Black Friday. Expand the system, support local businesses and RUN the buses on Black Friday!   

Denice Traina
Chair, Augusta Interfaith Coalition Transit Committee 

It's Not a Federal Holiday

Wal-Mart workers and activists are planning another round of protests and strikes at the nation’s largest employer on the biggest shopping day of the year. The Black Friday protests come at a time of heightened scrutiny for the company. 

It made headlines last week when a photo surfaced online of a sign made by workers at one of its stores in Ohio. The sign was taped to a table and read: "Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner." 

Wal-Mart says the food drive shows the company tries to help its workers. But critics say it reveals the low wages Wal-Mart pays them. The National Labor Relations Board also ruled last week that Wal-Mart violated the rights of striking workers.

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened extremely early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. 

Black Friday is not a federal holiday, but California and some other states observe "The Day After Thanksgiving" as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. 

Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the day after off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time.

For many years, it was common for retailers to open at 6:00 a.m., but in the late 2000s many had crept to 5:00 or even 4:00. This was taken to a new extreme in 2011, when several retailers (including Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Best Buy, and Bealls opened at midnight for the first time.

In 2012, Wal-Mart and several other retailers announced that they would open most of their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day (except in states where opening on Thanksgiving is prohibited due to blue laws, such as Massachusetts where they still opened around midnight), prompting calls for a walkout among some workers. 

Black Friday shopping is known for attracting aggressive crowds, with annual reports of assaults, shootings, and throngs of people trampling on other shoppers in an attempt to get the best deal on a product before supplies run out.

Sources: APT, Wikipedia and Democracy Now
Staff Writers 

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