Black Friday saw a wave of protests at an estimated 1,600 Walmart stores across the nation. But for a small group of Walmart workers, the protest had begun a day earlier, on Thanksgiving. On a day when most of the country was at home enjoying a good meal, the workers gathered outside the Walmart Supercenter in downtown Long Beach to begin a 24-hour hunger strike.
The workers were going without food to protest the low wages and part-time work schedules that leave so many Walmart employees unable to afford enough food for themselves and their families. The low wages paid to the bulk of the one million hourly workers employed by Walmart means that many rely on public assistance such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing in order to make ends meet. The price tag for this assistance is an estimated $6.2 billion per year in taxpayer dollars.
Walmart won’t pay its employees enough to afford Thanksgiving dinner, so they’re holding food drives for their employees. Seriously. It’s been reported that an Oklahoma City Walmart set up bins for underpaid associates to donate canned goods to other underpaid associates.
Walmart workers have a better idea: Pay us enough to put food on the table.
On Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, tens of millions of Americans will travel to Walmart stores to look for holiday discounts on computers, toys and cellphones as well as to buy groceries and basic household items. But at more than 1,600 of Walmart’s 4,000 stores, shoppers will be greeted by Walmart employees handing out leaflets and holding picket signs — “Walmart: Stop Bullying, Stop Firing, Start Paying” and “We’re Drawing a Line at the Poverty Line: $25,000/year” — protesting the company’s abusive labor practices, including poverty-level wages, stingy benefits,
On November 13, Walmart associates in Los Angeles kicked off this year’s Black Friday strikes by sitting down in the aisles of the Crenshaw Walmart store to protest Walmart’s alleged intimidation. Later that evening 23 workers and community members were arrested at the Pico Rivera store.
But that’s just the beginning. This Black Friday, Walmart workers are striking again on the biggest shopping day of the year. Walmart associates are sick of struggling to get by while working for a company owned by the world’s wealthiest family. The Walton family that controls Walmart has more wealth than 43 percent of Americans combined, a perfect picture of everything that’s wrong with our unequal economy.
Walmart associates are striking to stop retaliation against workers who exercise their rights and to call on the company to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing full-time work.
As Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) work to raise the wage for all Angelenos,
D.H. Lawrence said that almost a century ago. Now we can read scientific evidence that this statement is true. How much we have or how much we earn does not make us happy. How we spend what we have is what makes us happy and the more that spending connects us to other human beings, the happier we are. Giving – to another person or through a charitable organization – is the deepest connection we can make.
While the conclusions of Happy Money, a book by research academics Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, demonstrate that happiness and giving are closely connected, they also indicate that giving boosts our odds of living longer and healthier. Furthermore, the authors say, when a man in an experimental situation gave more to someone needy,
So the day of action at Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has passed at least for the time being. And it turned out to be much larger than the company’s executives in Bentonville had predicted or care to admit.
Thousands of Walmart workers and their allies protested for better wages, affordable healthcare benefits, full-time jobs and an end to management retaliation for speaking out in at least 100 cities, including in Dallas and Lancaster, Texas, Miami and Kenosha, Wisconsin, and several other locations not know for their activism. Although the final tally will not be clear for some time, “open-source” actions of some kind took place at Walmart stores in 46 different states across the nation, with major demonstrations in California, Washington, New York and Massachusetts.
Before Black Friday, the company’s management insisted that the “so called protests” involved a handful of associates at a handful of stores, supplemented by non-Walmart employees,
As Black Friday approached, I couldn’t help but remember a vivid scene in The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver where an entire Congo village is overrun by a swarm of ants, creating a human stampede, a living wall of death. The only thing that saves one of the missionary’s daughters are two words of advice that would serve any Walmart shopper well – “elbows out.”
This year, Walmart’s Black Friday customers had to contend with a new challenge: striking workers and their community supporters, who staged actions at stores across the country. Judging by the breadth and intensity of the protests, Walmart diehards had better get used to facing picket lines, and not just on the busiest shopping day of the year.
The origins of the “Black Friday” label are contentious, with commercial interests arguing that it lies in the accounting term of being profitable,
For a list of today’s Walmart protest actions, see our Guide to Black Friday Strikes.
Talk about your perfect storm. Walmart, which in recent years has been raising the danger level for shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, has now created a new attractive nuisance that’s being called Gray Thursday. This is when Walmart stores open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, ostensibly to alleviate security and safety pressures on Black Friday, the traditional pre-dawn running of the bulls – er, shoppers – down the stores’ aisles in search of cut-rate prices.
The safety rationale of opening a store six or eight hours ahead of Black Friday is highly debatable; what’s not disputed is that Walmart is ordering in armies of its underpaid employees to work on a night they have traditionally enjoyed as a holiday. But the only tradition this company respects is that of making money on the backs of its mistreated “associates” – workers who are only able to live paycheck to paycheck with the help of food stamps and other government-provided poverty entitlements.
October was a banner month for Walmart workers nationwide. Each week saw more Walmart workers speaking up and going on strike, to protest Walmart’s attempts to silence workers and retaliate against them. The strikes culminated in an announcement at Walmart’s Arkansas headquarters that if the retaliation does not cease, workers will make Black Friday a “memorable” day for the company.
To make Black Friday a success, Walmart workers need the support of community members like you. Our website now features a number of ways to get involved and support Walmart strikers on Black Friday.
On the heels of growing Walmart unrest that began on Thursday, October 4 at the Pico Rivera Walmart in Southern Los Angeles, the first-ever strike in Walmart’s history, activists gathered at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart is holding its annual financial analyst meeting. As roughly 200 striking Walmart associates and community supporters rallied in Bentonville in the name of changing Walmart labor practices, an agreement was reached via OUR Walmart for an action aimed at Black Friday, the most anticipated shopping day of the year for consumers and retailers and the kick-off to the holiday shopping season.
On Wednesday morning, a tele-conference with striking Walmart workers and community supporters was staged to announce new calls for change at Walmart. At the helm was Daniel Schlademan, Director at Making Change at Walmart, who emphasized the push towards Black Friday. He was echoed on the call by Evelyn Cruz (Pico Rivera Walmart employee),