America's union bosses have developed a new holiday tradition. They use Thanksgiving as a time to do the opposite of giving thanks. Instead, Big Labor bosses have decided Thanksgiving weekend is a perfect time to complain.

For the third year in a row, and with no end in sight, Big Labor has planned labor protests on the day after Thanksgiving. Even three years ago, this tradition of complaining was nonexistent.

As a result of staging these events on the day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day itself then necessarily involves complaint. Big Labor thereby desecrates that most uniquely American of holiday traditions, Thanksgiving.

History of the holiday

It's important to recognize that the purpose of the Thankgiving holiday is to be grateful for what we have, not to complain. This goes back to the very start of the republic — and beyond. After completing the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, the United States Congress resolved to give thanks as their very first order of business. Rep. Elias Boudinot of New Jersey introduced the resolution to "wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging, with grateful hearts, the many signal favors of Almighty God."

Thus, at Congress' request, our first president, George Washington, proclaimed a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer" to occur on Thursday, Nov. 26, 1789.


Long before Washington's proclamation, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony celebrated Thanksgiving on Massachusetts' Cape Cod. According to, "In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims famously shared a harvest feast with the Pokanokets; the meal is now considered the basis for the Thanksgiving holiday."

Following the first Congress' actions, Thanksgiving quickly became an American tradition: school plays, Plymouth Plantation, hats with buckles, turkey, hunting, corn, pumpkin, squash, nuts, prayer and public thanksgivings that continue to this day.

Yet the union bosses' complaint campaigns turn this tradition on its head. They are about complaining that retail companies don't bow to their every wish. It's the action of a spoiled child, not a grateful adult.

In fact, Friday's publicity stunts are really a dirty tricks campaign. Wal-Mart's unionized competitors such as Safeway and Supervalu hire a community organizing firm, Saint Consulting, to gin up phony opposition. Saint's goal "is always to kill Wal-Mart."

Saint works with the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which in turn staffs and pays for a front group named Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). Utilizing front groups evades much of the transparency, disclosure and compliance required of unions.

Rather than actual strikes, which would involve the store workers picketing, "protests" are staged. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan notes, "The reality is that few Walmart associates participate in these labor-organized protests." Five state courts have halted these union-staged demonstrations.

Thankfulness is the reality

When two Wal-Marts opened in Washington, D.C., over 23,000 people applied for 600 jobs. Successful applicants were thankful to merit the job.

Knowing America's history, understanding the back story behind Big Labor's phony, dirty-tricks publicity stunts on Friday and seeing the reality of the desire for solid jobs, Big Labor's new tradition of complaining has no place during Thanksgiving week.

Hogan is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.