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WalMart Black Friday Strike for Workers' Rights

Emily Mae Czachor |
November 21, 2013 | 5:49 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


For eager shopaholics, Black Friday poses a prime opportunity for mass purchasing in the absence of monetary guilt. Hundreds of thousands of frenzied customers storm stores like Best Buy, Target, WalMart, and Macy's in pursuit of the most desirable items for the lowest price. However, in 2013, the streets will not only be congested with enthusiastic teenage girls with eyes on a new pair of jeans or determined mothers searching for a new TV. This year, crowds will be accompanied by picket lines comprised of WalMart employees. 

This Thanksgiving, WalMart employees will strike in protest of low wages and poor working conditions. (Creative Commons/Wikimedia)
This Thanksgiving, WalMart employees will strike in protest of low wages and poor working conditions. (Creative Commons/Wikimedia)

On November 29, WalMart workers will engage in their second annual Black Friday strike - an attempt to attract the attention of WalMart officials who have largely disregarded workers' pleas for reasonable wages and working hours. In September, WalMart CEO, Bill Simon, estimated that the corporation's 1.3 million workers earn, on average, less than $25,000 each year. Additionally, the company is under scrutiny by the National Labor Relations Board for illegally firing and punishing 117 workers who have participated in various strikes this past year to protest their working conditions.

The highly anticipated protests are sponsored by the non-union organization, OUR WalMart, which is coordinating the subsequent protests along with the assistance of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Union. Last year, strikes occurred in approximately twelve cities across the United States, and resulted in the participation of over 400 workers. Recently, OUR WalMart released a statement assuring "widespread, massive strikes and protests for Black Friday." The 2012 action is currently considered to be the largest US strike in WalMart's corporate history. 

Despite the impending public demonstration and the multitude of strikes that have occurred during the past 13 months, WalMart does not appear to be negotiating with union leaders. In response to the NLRB's announcement of prosecution, WalMart spokesperson, Kory Lundberg, expressed the steadfastness of the company's beliefs. "We will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified," he said. It is evidently difficult to convey to WalMart executives the extensive ramifications of the issue, as many strikes consist of a very small percentage of the overall group of 1.3 million company workers. 

While onlookers may sympathize with the workers, many have yet to make a proactive attempt to help the cause. In an interview with Forbes, Jordan Terry, managing director of Stone Street Advisors LLC, said, "Fact of the matter is that most people talk about affecting change or being outraged by whatever corporate misdeed happens to be in the news, but very, very few actually vote with their wallet." 

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here




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