Walmart workers walked off the job at two stores in Maryland on Tuesday, one in Columbia and another in Laurel, and are expected to strike at another store in Landover Hills. The strikes come a day after one in Miami and makes nine strikes total for the month of November.
The strikes also come just days before promised action on the mega holiday shopping day Black Friday. Last year, 30,000 workers and supporters participated in protests against the company, including 400 workers on strike. Activists promise 1,500 protests across the country this year, from the Bay Area to Minneapolis to Miami.
The company has previously said that last year’s Black Friday sales were successful despite the strikes. “We respect everyone’s right to speak his or her mind, but it is unfortunate that some people have picked such an important day to do so,” a spokesperson told ThinkProgress. The company did not respond to a request for comment on the Maryland strikes by the time of publication.
Yet while some Walmart workers say they’ll walk off the job on Friday, others will have to show up on Thursday when the company opens its doors to shoppers. It is one of many big retailers this year that say they will open early, denying the workers who have to come in time with their loved ones. The stores claim that employees are excited to be there on Thanksgiving, but others have reported that their requests to take the day off were rebuffed and some may not have time off to take the day, as the United States doesn’t guarantee paid vacation time.
Workers have been going on strike this month to demand an end to retaliation, more full-time positions, and better wages — specifically, that all workers make at least $25,000 a year. The National Labor Relations Board recently backed up workers’ claims that they have experienced unlawful retaliation in the form of being fired, disciplined, or threatened for striking at 13 stores across the country. Meanwhile, the majority of its in-store employees make less than $25,000, consuming about $1 million in public benefits like food stamps and Medicaid at a single location just to get by, and the company hires so few full-time workers that sales have suffered from empty shelves.