Robert Reich: Why you shouldn’t shop at Walmart on Friday

Plenty of you have no doubt heard about the walk-out planned for Black Friday, but if you haven’t, click through to Robert Reich’s site to read more. It’s important for us all that fellow Americans receive a fair, living wage which includes the basics such as healthcare.

With corporate profits at all time highs, it’s time to see some fairness brought back into the equation. A lot of people like shopping at Walmart and with limited budgets, it’s easy to understand. However, if you can at least wait until Saturday, you will be helping Walmart workers fight for better working conditions. Support the Walmart protests on Friday by shopping elsewhere and help move Walmart in the right direction.

Robert Reich:

Walmart earned $16 billion last year (it just reported a 9 percent increase in earnings in the third quarter of 2012, to $3.6 billion), the lion’s share of which went instead to Walmart’s shareholders — including the family of its founder, Sam Walton, who earned on their Walmart stock more than the combined earnings of the bottom 40 percent of American workers.

Is this about to change? Despite decades of failed unionization attempts, Walmart workers are planning to strike or conduct some other form of protest outside at least 1,000 locations across the United States this Friday – so-called “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day in America when the Christmas holiday buying season begins.

At the very least, the action gives Walmart employees a chance to air their grievances in public – not only lousy wages (as low at $8 an hour) but also unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, excessive hours, and sexual harassment. The result is bad publicity for the company exactly when it wants the public to think of it as Santa Claus. And the threatened strike, the first in 50 years, is gaining steam.

The company is fighting back. It has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to preemptively ban the Black Friday strikes. The complaint alleges that the pickets are illegal “representational” picketing designed to win recognition for the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. Walmart’s workers say they’re protesting unfair labor practices rather than acting on behalf of the UFCW. If a court sides with Walmart, it could possibly issue an injunction blocking Black Friday’s pickets.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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  • DOUGLAS L SCOTT

    they commit treason every day

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Cleaning out your cat box, kitty troll?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Do your homework ally cat. The post office is losing money because of prohibitive Republican legislation.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Sadly, it was a colossal flop.

  • Naja pallida

    Of course it is a simplified view, I never claimed it wasn’t – one could make an entire 90 minute-long documentary on the detrimental impact(s) of Wal-Mart stores on local communities and still not cover it all… oh, wait, someone did. Anyway, it was a narrow for-instance I have seen first hand, which has been severely detrimental to my own community, and countless others.

    The majority of sales tax is collected by the state, not the local community – but that varies by locality. Income taxes are paid federally and/or to the state. Once again, not to the local community. How much do you suppose from each store is filtering directly into the community that they are impacting? Here, about a single percent of sales tax is returned directly to the community, and we have no state income tax. Okay, so, yeah, the giant store pays taxes on its utility usage, of which it uses the most of any facility in the entire county. Sure, they’re paying a reasonable income tax rate… but my whole point has been that only a small fraction of what they are paying ever filters down to their local communities. And in the end, how does that help the dozens of small businesses that they obliterate when they come into an area?

  • emjayay

    But have you ever for example shopped at Home Depot? Also pays less than a living wage, also keeps 70% of its employees part time to avoid paying benefits, also gives employees changing schedules, also propagandizes its employees against unions. Probably other big box stores are similar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/giorgiothecat Giorgio Cat

    Amen. As I posted above, if wal mart were Union and losing Billions- (like our post office) Liberals wouldn’t say a peep. Liberals adore failure- hate profit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/giorgiothecat Giorgio Cat

    Of course your post is the simpleton view. Wal Mart has employees, correct? Yes, those are taxpayers. They also generate what? SALES TAX . Yes they do ! Not to mention Wal Marts are not stand alone stores. Gas stations- restaurants – cel phone businesses etc. All of which pay taxes. Wal Mart paid $7.1 billion (at a rate of 32.4%) in income taxes in 2011. Maybe they should just shut down leaving a 7.1 billion dollar tax gap, and they could raise taxes on you to cover it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/giorgiothecat Giorgio Cat

    Oh PLEASE ! You are the same pseudo-intellectuals who whined about GM profits in the 80′s. Yet, won’t bitch about Apple making record billions- keeping them offshore and using slave labor. Only reason the left whines about Wal Mart is because they are non union. If they were losing billions a week and were Union, the left would picture them the model of business worldwide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/denny.mcphee Denny McPhee

    I’m with MyrddiWilt. Never been,never will.

  • Naja pallida

    Not to mention, you’ll find in many cases, Wal-Mart stores are sitting on land that they are paying no taxes on, which was the incentive to bring the store to the local community. So not only are they not paying a living wage to help the local community prosper, they’re not even paying their fair share to participate in that community.

    When they came in here, pretty much all the mom and pop stores inside about a two or three mile radius boarded up almost over night. There are at least five strip-malls just in the local vicinity of Wal-Mart itself that used to be filled with little independently-owned gift shops, candle shops, toy stores, a bike store, a hardware store, etc, that have all stood empty since Wal-Mart opened. Not even replaced with other businesses, just empty. Do you suppose all the money those shops made, and all the income those landlords are now losing, makes up for the “convenience” of a Wal-Mart nearby? That’s not even getting into median wages, property values… etc.

  • unclemike

    If Disqus doesn’t work, how are you posting this comment?

  • Indigo

    I’ll boycott Disqus instead. At least Wal-Mart works.

  • lilyannerose

    If you pay taxes you have a genuine vested interest as Wal-Mart is using your tax money, which was deducted from YOUR paycheck, when an underpaid employee has to get food stamps or medicaid.

  • lilyannerose

    It’s a matter of messaging. For every Wal-Mart employee who does not make a living wage, who needs food stamps and medicaid, it’s a cost to the American taxpayer. It’s time to end this corporate game, wherein the corporations make mega billions in profits and rely on the American taxpayer to cover legitimate costs of doing business. Every taxpayer in this country has a vested interest in the wages of Wal-Mart and other underpaid individuals. All of this talk about cuts in entitlements? BS – make these corporations pay enough and offer enough benefits to take a few million individuals off of entitlements.

  • Outspoken1

    Yes you can because you could make the choice to visit today if you wanted.

  • percysowner

    Walmart has been particularly egregious with it’s labor violations. A union is the only way to give workers any leverage against a billion dollar company so that the employees have a chance at decent wages, decent hours and actually making the company comply with labor law. However, this is not a demonstration in support of unionization. It is protesting the conditions of employment and the labor violations. And calling workers who want to make more than $8.00 per hour or get sick leave or even have the company not violate current law GREEDY is ridiculous when you are talking about them taking on a company that raked in over $16 billion on their labor.

  • Bloodsword6

    Why Only Wal-mart? Why not Target, Kohl’s, Kmart, Toys R Us, and all the other stores that do this on Black Friday. Oh that’s right, cause this was all started by a union. A greedy Union that has a hard on for Walmart, and whats in, only because of the unions greed!

  • MyrddinWilt

    Since I have never set foot in a Walmart and never intend to, I am not sure whether I can claim to be meaningfully boycotting them today.

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