You’ve probably heard whispers regarding a Black Friday strike by unhappy Walmart workers on the busiest shopping day of America. It’s more than a rumor, with Walmart employees now protesting in seven states as of this posting.
Black Friday started earlier than usual this year, with Walmart stores across the country opening their door-buster deals at 8 pm yesterday (on Thanksgiving). While most Americans were recovering from an afternoon of turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and football, Walmart workers were donning their khaki pants and navy blue shirts and getting ready to punch in for a hectic shift.
Rumor had it that strikes and labor actions had been planned over two days at roughly 1,000 Walmart stores around the country. Walmart workers in the Dallas, Miami, and San Francisco area were planning on walking off work and striking early Thursday evening, protesting low wages, lack of benefits, and a perceived pattern of corporate retaliation against organizational efforts.
Using the nation spotlight that Black Friday affords, striking Walmart employees hoped to sway shoppers to their side.
“We have to show people that we’re not just a crazy bunch of protesters,” said a Wheatland, Texas Walmart employee.
Black Friday strikes have been promised for Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Washington, D.C., and states including Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota. “This is a new permanent reality for Walmart,” said one Walmart employee advocate. “2012 is the beginning of the season where retail workers are going to start to stand up.”
“There’s going to be more days that we’re going to strike,” said one Miami striker, “and it’s not going to stop. I’m not going to stop until they respect us and give us what we want.”
The Nation reports that Walmart workers are on strike in Dallas, though a crowd was dispersed by police. Walmart workers walked off the job in Kenosha, Wisconsin and say that managers mistakenly kicked out shoppers that they thought were protestors. San Leandro, California and Clovis, New Mexico also has Walmart workers on strike. Stores in Ocean City, Maryland; Orlando, Florida; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana each have a single worker out on strike.
In St. Cloud, Florida, Walmart associate Lisa Lopez was joined by Congressman-Elect Alan Grayson as she walked out on strike.
Concerning Walmart’s “retaliation” on their striking workers, one official told The Huffington Post: “Each store has an individualized plan of how they will get customers in and out of stores and deal with large crowds. If a walkout does happen at an individual store, the store management will judge that on a case-by-case basis. We think there are going to be so few of these it’s best to be handled individually.”
What do you think of the Black Friday Walmart strike? There’s certainly a lot to unpack here, from Walmart’s Thursday night early opening and fair wages for employees to how realistic unionization for employees could be and whether they should just be grateful for a job in the first place. What do you think? Who’s right, and who’s wrong?