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Published: Friday, 11/18/2005

Fewer employers dole out Thanksgiving extras

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Fewer employers nationally have giving paid days off this year for Thanksgiving Day and the day after, and, more surprising, fewer are giving turkeys or other gifts to their employees.

A recent survey shows that just 2 percent of employers will give turkeys to employees this year, down from 5 percent to 6 percent over the past decade. Only 14 percent of employers will express thanks with grocery certificates, a catered meal, or other gift, down from 23 percent last year, according to an annual survey by BNA Inc.

B&B Molded Products of Napoleon, with 80 employees, is among holdouts on the turkey-giving tradition, and Toledo's Pilkington North America is among those giving employees other perks.

At Pilkington's Rossford glass factory, 300 workers are given a catered meal and gift certificates for The Andersons Inc.'s stores, said spokesman Roberta Steedman.

"I think it's great for the employees' morale and also to support a local company," she said.

The maker of building and vehicle glass is among the 37 percent of employers having at least some people work on Thanksgiving.

The factory is among various local plants that operate continuously, and Pilkington's hourly workers get holiday pay plus time and a half on Thanksgiving, Ms. Steedman said.

Some of Dana Corp.'s factories continue to give workers turkeys or gift certificates, said Todd Romain, a spokesman for the Toledo auto supplier.

"It's a tradition in certain facilities," he said.

Nationwide, 69 percent of employers have designated both Thanksgiving Day and the day after as paid holidays, down from last year's peak of 73 percent but on par with previous years, according to BNA.

Among them are Findlay's Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., which doesn't provide other holiday benefits, according to a spokesman.

Food, gift certificates, raffles, parties - and most recently gasoline cards - are more common locally at Christmas, said Amanda Gleckler, of the Employers' Association in Sylvania.

Nationwide, the turkey-giving tradition has lost its allure over the decades, but this year's sharp drop may have to do with media coverage of and concerns about the avian flu, said Josh Joseph, research director at BNA.

"It's kind of sad to see the turkey go down to such a small percentage," he said.

The decline in Thanksgiving gifts overall may be traced to Hurricane Katrina, Mr. Joseph said.

Many companies and employees donated money to relief efforts, perhaps with the understanding that this year's Thanksgiving trimmings would be curtailed, he said.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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