A late night stroll along the famous Paris street Champs Elysées may leave a less-than-desired experience for tourists hoping to stop by some of the street’s popular shops.
As labor unions in America struggle to organize more groups of employees from hairdressers to fast food employees, France’s highly regulated labor market currently experiences 10 percent unemployment among its active population.
This high level of unemployment, however, has not stopped French labor unions from suing companies for breaking the country’s law allowing sales to occur only during specific hours.
A recent court case, featured by Yahoo News, has caused the makeup store Sephora, stationed along the Champs Elysées, to close at 9 p.m.
The case was brought by a consortium of labor unions, which has been zealous in its attempts to have the store-closing hour law enforced, arguing that it needs to protect workers from unscrupulous owners who force them to work antisocial hours.
Sephora estimates that 20 percent of its business occurred after 9 p.m. Workers at the chain store were outraged:
…[T]he 50 sales staff who work the late shift do so voluntarily―and are paid an hourly rate that is 25 percent higher than the day shift. Many of them are students or part-time workers, and they have publicly expressed their indignation about being put out of work by labor unions. The judge refused to take into consideration a petition they presented to the court, saying the case was a matter of public order….
Yet, with regulations beginning to incense France’s working population, such strict labor laws are still being enforced, and unemployment has continued to rise.
As America faces its future, we should take a look at France. Curtailing vibrant businesses and putting workers out of their jobs in response to union demands are not good for workers in the end.
Sarah Ross Wolf is the communications coordinator for Cascade Policy Institute and a devout shopper.