This Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year will also be the busiest day for labor organizing, as Walmart store associates and community supporters spend their Thanksgiving holidays on the picket lines.
Organizers announced that last week’s walkouts at Walmart locations in California, Texas, and Seattle were the first wave of an expected 1,000 protests across the country leading up to and on Black Friday. The public can expect strikes and protests in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C., as well as walkouts in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota, among other states.
Over the past year, groups including Warehouse Workers United, United Food & Commercial Workers, the National Guestworker Alliance, and OUR Walmart, a union-backed organization founded by Walmart workers, have come together to confront Walmart. Unsafe working conditions, poverty-level wages, a rise in already expensive health care premiums, and retaliation against workers’ organizing have encouraged many to join the strike instead of clocking in for the annual shopping holiday.
Worker discontent has been mounting since June, when guestworkers at a small seafood supplier for Walmart—immigrants in the U.S. on temporary work visas—walked off the job at their Louisiana plant and brought attention to labor abuses down the Walmart supply chain. Marches in California and Chicago for Walmart warehouse workers followed soon after.
One of the biggest concerns of workers and labor activists organizing actions for Black Friday is wealth inequality within the Walmart company. According to a report by the Huffington Post, a low-level Walmart employee averages $8 ...