CREDIT: Fight For 15
The nation’s largest private employer is seeing strikes in nine cities on Black Friday this year. OUR Walmart, the non-union group arguing for labor protections, expects 1,500 protests involving workers and their community supporters. At the same time, workers who strike could face retaliation, like being fired, for their actions. Dozens of protesters have already been arrested today for their civil disobedience.
Here’s why the strikes have been building momentum:
WHY WORKERS ARE STRIKING:
Workers have three demands: A minimum $25,000 a year, more full-time positions, and an end to retaliation. More than 825,000 workers make less than $25,000 a year. Recognizing that workers struggle on an average $8.81, one Walmart even held a food drive for its employees. Walmart notoriously relies on part-time, erratic scheduling, denying full-time work to staff who request it — so much so, that Walmart recently announced it would add more full-time shifts to make up for severe staffing shortfalls. Low wages and scarce health care benefits at a single 300-person Superstore cost the economy up to $1.7 million in public assistance programs every year.
WALMART’S RESPONSE: To counter the protests, Walmart has pursued a positive PR campaign to showcase Black Friday sales success (despite reports of violence in stores). Behind the scenes, Walmart takes action against protesting workers. The National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that through media statements and other means, Walmart “unlawfully threatened” employees who walked out in protests last year in 14 states. Shortly before protests began Friday, the retailer distorted the NLRB decision to falsely claim unions paid Walmart protesters.
WHY NOW?: In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, Walmart have seen nine different strikes. Last year, 400 workers went on strike during Black Friday, and another 30,000 supporters participated in protests. And in the race for profits, Walmart opened earlier than ever on Thanksgiving this year and denied workers both fair wages and their holiday.