Nov 20 2012

Walmart Workers Plan Protests at 1000 Stores on Black Friday

Retailers around the country are seeking to woo shoppers to spend more on Black Friday by extending their hours and increasing the over $50 billion dollars that consumers are expected to spend on the most lucrative shopping day of the year. Walmart, Sears, Target, Toys R Us, Kmart and other stores are now opening on Thanksgiving Day itself to lure more shoppers. However, a Target employee who started a petition to keep her store closed on Thanksgiving, has managed to attract more than 350,000 signatures from the public, saying that employees deserve to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

This year Black Friday may also be the biggest day of protest for Walmart workers around the country. Walmart workers or associates as they are called, have been unable to form a union but many have been organizing under the name Organization United for Respect at Walmart or OUR Walmart over the past couple months and are gearing up to stage their largest action against the retail giant this Friday.

Employees are demanding better wages, longer and more regular weekly work hours in order to qualify for benefits, and better treatment of workers who voice concerns over working conditions or pay. The company, which recently posted a third quarter net income of $3.63 billion dollars or 9% more than what it made last year, is nervous about picket lines dampening its Black Friday profits.

In an attempt to shut down the protests, Walmart filed a complaint last Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Food and Commercial Workers International or UFCW which is affiliating itself with OUR Walmart, asserting that the protests are illegal because they have gone beyond an allowed maximum of 30 days.

Organizers who are unable to be at every one of Walmart’s 4,000 stores to set up picket lines, are turning to online social media outlets to discourage shoppers from patronizing the store or shopping online.

GUEST: Dan Hindman, Walmart Associate at the Panorama City Walmart; Paul Osterman, MIT professor and the author of Good Jobs America: Making Work Better for Everyone

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