Guest Post: Why Black Friday strikes against Walmart matter

UPDATE: It’s been an incredible morning of events, still a few going on on the East Coast, and events going strong as you go further west. We’re already hearing reports of threatened retaliation of workers, though, so we need to make sure to keep an eye on Walmart in the weeks ahead to protect these workers.

You probably have heard something about the growing waves of strikes happening at Walmart.

that come when the workers stand up for better pay and working conditions. John wanted me to come on to fill everyone in on some of the background, and what people can do to help, and I thank him for the chance.

Walmart matters. It’s so large, it sets the standard for wages and worker treatment. You can see when Walmart announces that they’re moving up Black Friday sales to eat into more of its workers’ Thanksgivings, other retailers follow suit. A new report by the policy think-tank Demos said, “Walmart has used this power to lower wages, cut hours, and deny benefits to its workforce, reducing the quality of retail jobs as a whole,” it says.

The mistreatment of its workers really does go far beyond the low pay.

You should take a few minutes and read about how Walmart treats its workers, then punishes them when they speak up. Workers in California who staged one of the first protests against Walmart in September had their hours cut back and faced termination for their acts. And Walmart is giving signs that they have no intention of ending this.

With Walmart executives on edge because of the planned walkouts on Black Friday, company spokesman David Tovar told CBS News Monday night that there “could be consequences” for workers who stay off the job on Black Friday.

That’s why it’s so important for all of us to show Walmart that we have these workers’ backs. And the outpouring of support so far has been huge.

Walmart workers have organized into the OUR Walmart organization, and they are standing up for their rights by walking off the job. This Black Friday strike is spreading like wildfire through social media. More than 30,000 people have pledged their support on petitions and through an Adopt-a-Store program that is being organized by the Corporate Action Network.

To get in action right now, you can use the Corporate Action Network’s events widget and search by ZIP code to find the stores nearest you:

If a store has an event already scheduled, you can join the event, if it needs a leader, you can click on the “adopt this store” button to lead the event there. The goal is for events at as many stores as possible, so please set up a new event if you can. All the materials are there for downloading in the “Campaign Materials” section, so you’d be ready to go.

The huge outpouring of support for the striking Walmart workers is happening because the retail giant touches so many aspects of our lives. People see the discrimination lawsuits that have been filed by women in several states, charging that they were denied pay raises and promotions because of their gender.

Small business owners and others who promote strong local economies and shopping local oppose Walmart because of its chilling effect on small businesses. Studies have shown that 35 to 60 percent of small businesses in the vicinity will fail after a new Walmart store moves in.

With unmarked GMO food on its shelves and trucks that burn more than 118 million gallons a fuel a year, environmentalists are joining in to send Walmart a message, too.

And I could go on and on … Walmart sets the standard in so many ways, and right now, the standard isn’t working for our communities, our workers, and our environment. So, join the thousands of workers and supporters who will be sending a strong message to Walmart this holiday season!

Brian Young is a co-founder of the Corporate Action Network. He’s worked in digital media politics and advocacy for a decade, including four years as New Media Director for Senator John Kerry.

Brian Young is a co-founder of the Corporate Action Network. He's worked in digital media politics and advocacy for a decade, including four years as New Media Director for Senator John Kerry.

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