I have never shopped in a Walmart store. I admit I shop in other big box stores that are probably just as bad on a smaller scale. It is important that we remember that what happens at Walmart will influence what happens at other stores. The issue was not just working on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, it was about benefits and low wages. The Nation reported
For about twenty-four hours, Walmart workers, union members and a slew of other activists pulled off the largest-ever US strike against the largest employer in the world. According to organizers, strikes hit a hundred US cities, with hundreds of retail workers walking off the job (last month‘s strikes drew 160). Organizers say they also hit their goal of a thousand total protests, with all but four states holding at least one. In the process, they notched a further escalation against the corporation that’s done more than any other to frustrate the ambitions and undermine the achievements of organized labor in the United States.
Even though many state governments and particularly Republican governors are doing their best to kill unions, workers will still organize.
The Black Friday strike came a year and a half after retail workers announced the founding of the new employee group OUR Walmart, five months after guest workers struck a Walmart seafood supplier and seven weeks after the country’s first-ever coordinated Walmart store strikes. Walmart striker Cindy Murray, a veteran of the last decade’s unsuccessful union-backed campaign against Walmart, said that after the 2008 election, “I was like, we have to do something different.” (Strikes at Walmart certainly qualify.) Murray said OUR Walmart has had greater success because workers saw it “as our organization,” as so they “finally said, maybe we can be saved. Maybe we can speak out.”
Retaliation was an ever-present theme of the day: an outrage that drove some workers to strike, a threat that led many more to stay at work, a focus of workers’ demands, and a question hanging over next week. Allegations of illegal retaliation provided workers greater potential legal protection to strike; puncturing any sense of safety about striking may have been the motivation for Walmart’s Labor Board charge alleging that the strikes were themselves illegal. And Walmart’s tactics over the past week may have taken a toll: organizers said that 100 DC-area Walmart store workers struck this week, but maybe no more than a dozen on Black Friday itself (they chalked this up to workers’ desire to cause more disruption earlier in the week while products were still being unloaded). Paramount, California, striker Maria Elena Jefferson said that some of her co-workers wouldn’t strike because “they think we’ll never win” and “they didn’t want to lose their jobs.” She said she hoped today’s actions–including a rally of well over 1,000 supporters in Paramount–would change their minds.
And there was this tweet posted on the Daily Kos.
Wal-Mart’s poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
— @ClintonMath via web
Think about how much better it would be if the workers got a living wage and benefits and paid taxes instead of getting government assistance.