Seventy Million Holiday Workers

This reflection was originally posted on December 25, 2016.

Numbers are hard to come by, but based on a 2014 poll, roughly 40 million Americans are required to work on either Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Day. Another 30 million anticipate that they might have to work.

It should be uncontroversial that these people deserve time with their families, and given an unrealistic societal conception of holidays of total harmony, it may be particularly cruel for those that observe any of these holidays to be called in anyway.

But we live in a system where it is literally impossible to give everybody a day off. (Healthcare workers, utility workers, the foodservice industry, etc. cannot simply pause as a whole.) And while there are plenty of concessions that can be made if you have to interact with such people (tipping extra, treating people with actual respect), there are plenty of other meaningful things that will allow people to fulfill their job duties with dignity.

Like eliminating tipped minimum wages (or really, tipping systems overall). Providing living wages, period. Guaranteed time off and sick leave as is feasible (not convenient, but feasible) for employers.

So if you celebrate Christmas and are either with traveling family or have traveled yourself, be thankful for that, but consider the flipside of that thankfulness: recognizing the privilege that has allowed that. It is a privilege not afforded to all, and if it matters to you, consider what can and should change.

-he said, on his way to the gym and then the office.

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