Update: Following reports of GameStop asking its employees to take part in a dance competition for Black Friday week work hours, the company has removed any mention of the contest from its public-facing post on the matter. However, according to an anonymous source close to the company who spoke to Fanbyte, there has been no internal communication to stores that the contest has been officially cancelled. To their knowledge, it’s still on.
Original story follows:
Times are tough for everyone right now, and since American citizens received exactly one (1) stimulus check of $1200 in the eight months that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the entire world into disarray, the working class is still having to clock into work at public places where dozens to hundreds of customers come through daily. Because our capitalist system was not prepared for an extended period of time where people should not be fucking working, retail workers are still having to be in public five days a week, and if there’s one thing I can tell you about retail after working at Wal-Mart for almost six years, it’s that corporate retail does not view you as a human being, and will treat you as such, even during a pandemic. But among the companies that have just been making shitty decision after shitty decision when it comes to protecting its workers, GameStop has been nothing if not consistent. And now, as we approach the launch of two new consoles and the beginning of the holiday season, the retailer is offering the chance for its stores to circumvent the company’s labor hours cap during Black Friday week. But only if they…dance for it?
As The Gamer pointed out, GameStop is holding a TikTok competition for its various stores to rope its poor employees into to dance for the amusement of the company at large. The winner of the competition will receive an Echo 8, Echo Auto, $100 VISA gift card and 10 additional labor hours to use during Black Friday week. To clarify what this means, the winning store itself will be allowed to add 10 hours to its schedule during the busiest retail week of the year in the US, as GameStop typically caps hours per store and management has to schedule employees around that limitation. So not only is this acknowledging that GameStop stores are being understaffed otherwise, but it’s telling employees the only way they’ll get to alleviate some of the workload is if they put a camera on their workers and have them dance to “Red Red Wine” by UB40. According to an anonymous source close to the company, we can confirm these extra 10 hours are not counted as overtime.
In other news:
- With The Last of Us 2, GameStop Shows a Wrong Way to Market Dogs in Games
- Gamestop Cancelling Midnight Launch Events Indefinitely
- Gamestop Lays off Hundreds, Including Some Game Informer Staff
GameStop has been truly bringing out the worst in itself during the pandemic as it not only tries to keep things afloat during a pandemic, but also during a time where the company is struggling to maintain its relevance as the world heads in the direction of a digital video game market. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the retailer attempted to claim it was an “essential” business, a title that was, at the time, being reserved for food and medical services, but GameStop said that video games were important to people while they quarantined, and thus it should remain open during a pandemic. Days later, GameStop temporarily closed its stores, followed by the shuttering of over 300 locations and the loss of hundreds of jobs. All of this was wrapped up in reports of how poorly the company was handling the pandemic, which basically said that higher-ups had done next to nothing to protect its employees that it deemed so essential.
So while the higher-ups at GameStop grasp at straws to remain relevant, it continues to treat the people on the sales floor like cattle that it will put in the line of fire if they bring in the used game sales, and rather than just give them the hours they need to get through the most demanding of times for retail workers, it will hold them just out of reach and only give them to those willing to humiliate themselves for its higher-up’s amusement.
Working in retail is truly the quickest way to seeing how unjust the capitalist dystopia we live in is. As much as we make fun of GameStop for the state of its business and the weird way workers there try to get us to pre-order games we don’t want or take part in deals we don’t care about (which I myself am guilty of), people are so quick to forget how much of that fuckery is required by someone in a suit who makes millions of dollars while his workforce makes barely enough to get by.
I hope there are managers in these locations that will go out of their way to protect workers from this demeaning bullshit. But having worked in retail for as long as I have, I know that there are plenty out there who won’t. Godspeed GameStop workers. You don’t deserve any of this.