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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10 Responses to “Guest Post: Why Black Friday strikes against Walmart matter”

  1. independence says:

    As a business owner, I have to say…thank God for Walmart. They hire a population of workers only the government would support. Perhaps they are part-time workers with no benefits, but they are working.They have a job. They are not a total liability to our Nation’s taxpayers.

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  3. Sweetie says:

    No one really cares about blue collar workers and no one ever has. After the Ludlow massacre and the outrage in the news, guess how much the workers were actually helped?

    The middle class likes a good scandal and the feeling of righteousness, but when it comes to getting off their duffs on behalf of the working class, good luck waiting.

    “Although the ‘Ludlow Massacre’ outraged many Americans, the tragedy did little to help the beleaguered Colorado miners and their families. Additional federal troops crushed the coal-miners’ strike, and the miners failed to achieve recognition of their union or any significant improvement in their wages and working conditions. Sixty-six men, women, and children died during the strike, but not a single militiaman or private detective was charged with any crime.”

    That was 1914. Little has changed. Now, the majority of the suffering is simply hidden more creatively.

  4. Naja pallida says:

    If you haven’t been paying attention, I’m not the one to bring you up to speed. Maybe you could read a few of the thousands of, easily-found, articles on Wal-Mart labor violations and poor treatment of their employees.

  5. Dave Kraut says:

    What do they do that should be illegal?

  6. Naja pallida says:

    Sadly, it is not exactly so… as our Republican policies have spent the last 30 years making sure that what they do isn’t illegal, nor even discouraged.

  7. karmanot says:

    “Wal-Mart operates like some kind of organized crime syndicate.” Exactly so!

  8. karmanot says:

    Germany caught on to WAL*MART years ago and gave them the boot. WAL*MART’s business model is the very essence of vulture capitalism. They moved into the North East industrial rust belt which saw hundreds of thousands of jobs sent overseas, promised replacement jobs at 30% of the old wages, jiggered the low wages for limited hours, discriminated against women and racial minorities, and other grievous practices. Worse, the sheer wealth accumulated by the company allows them to overwhelm lawsuits by ordinary people. They also buy local and Federal judges to protect them in court. WAL*Mart is wealthier than many small countries and they act like a sovereign nation. Further, they constitute a national security threat because their IT system is said to be larger and more sophisticated than the Pentagon’s. WAL*MART is pure evil, feudal in structure and anti-democratic. If Obama’ justice department had any credibility at all, WAL*MART would be investigated for monopoly and civil rights abuses.

  9. Naja pallida says:

    Back when Wal-Mart took over Woolco stores in Canada back in the early 90s, they basically came in and decimated store staff. Forcing employees to operate the same stores, which were already struggling, with a fraction of the employees. Anyone who uttered a peep of complaint was summarily dismissed. A friend of mine was fired a few weeks after the takeover, the store manager citing the takeover and cutbacks, etc, but she was taken aside by one of the assistant managers who was a Woolco holdover, and told that the real reason they fired her was because the new management had learned she had asthma, and determined that it would be a liability if she had any kind of at-work issues, or had to take time off because of her health.

    Wal-Mart operates like some kind of organized crime syndicate. They know that minimum wage employees do not have the resources, nor the ability to mount any kind of formal legal challenges to their poor treatment, so they are considered entirely disposable. They know that, especially in an economy like this one, that there will always be a never-ending flow of desperate people willing to take the place of anyone they toss out the door and/or put up with being treated like garbage, just to keep some amount of income flowing. Fighting unionization is all about making sure their employees remain weak and unable to stand up to the company on anything. Wal-Mart alone is proof-positive that people in this country aren’t all just lazy takers, like the Republicans seem to think, but are willing to put up with some of the shittiest treatment possible, just to put food on the table… and yet still can’t manage to make ends meet.

  10. Hue-Man says:

    WalMart Canada executive should be in jail for what they’ve done to bust unions and hinder unionization. “For example, Walmart’s 2006 decision to close a store in Jonquiere, Quebec after the workers there decided to join the union drew condemnation from people around the world. Four years later, the rights of Walmart Tire & Lube workers in Gatineau, Quebec were also stifled by their employer after Walmart decided their union contract didn’t fit with its “business model”. Examples of Walmart’s war on the rights of Canadian workers can also be found in communities like Weyburn, Saskatchewan where the retailer has spent the last eight years trying to stall and frustrate the collective bargaining process.

    Most recently, Walmart has joined Target in firing more than 10,000 Zellers workers and refusing to respect their experience, loyalty and labour rights.”

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