The Walmart Black Friday Strike Comes to a Store Near You

Why shoppers on Black Friday may encounter Walmart strikers and their supports and why that is important.

On Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, shoppers will be greeted by demonstrations in support of striking Walmart employees at hundreds of Walmart stores across the country.

The intent of the demonstrations is not to discourage shoppers from shopping at Walmart but to bring to their attention that those low prices they enjoy have a cost and that cost is the horrendous working conditions of Walmart employees. 

Walmart’s unfair treatment of its employees is legendary: poverty wages; insufficient hours, most employees are not full-time even though many stores are understaffed; no overtime pay; inadequate or no health insurance; and no holiday pay despite the fact that stores are forcing their employees to work from 7:00pm on Thanksgiving to 4:00am on Friday and then return to work at 7:00am. 

Walmart has been sued in the past for forcing employees to work off the clock and other wage-theft activities and their virulent anti-unionism has resulted in law suits for unfair labor practices.

Walmart has been brilliant in the art of socializing their costs and privatizing their profits. By paying their employees poverty level wages Walmart gets the public to subsidize a major part of their business expenses. The average salary for a Wal-Mart employee is less than $9.00 an hour. Even at $9.00 and a forty-hour work week - and almost no one gets forty hours - that would come to an annual salary of $18,700 which is $5,000 below the poverty line for a family of four. Whenever a Walmart employee uses food-stamps to feed his or her family, or puts their children on Medicaid or uses the emergency room for lack of health insurance the American public pays the bill in higher taxes.  With 1.4 million workers the Walmart tax bill is in the billions of dollars.

Walmart‘s success as a standard setter for low-wage employers feeds one of our country’s long term economic structural problem: the growing inequality of income and wealth and the resulting increase in poverty. And a new study shows that Illinois now ranks fourth among states in the growth of income inequality.  This should be of particular concern to residents of Will County where the fastest growing work-force is warehouse workers whose working conditions, as the recent strike against the Walmart warehouse in Elwood exposed, are even worse than those of Walmart retail employees. Communities in and around Will County cannot prosper if  its fastest growing work force makes less than a subsistence wage. This is an intolerable situation and cannot continue.

Walmart‘s business plan has made Walmart one of the most successful businesses in the world and made the Walton family fabulously rich. But their business and financial success has come at an appalling cost to their employees and to society in general.

This coming Friday, Warehouse Workers for Justice and their supporters will gather at Sacred Heart Church, 329 S. Ottawa St., Joliet at 8:00am and then caravan to a Walmart somewhere in Will County to show support for all striking and non-striking Walmart workers across the country.

Ron Kurowski

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Desiree November 21, 2012 at 03:52 AM
The discussion in America today is: What do we want our society to be? Are we of the commons, rugged individualists? Is this a country of, by for the people? the corporations? Wall St? Banking? Do we, should we care about our fellow man? that scumbag who works at Walmart? Our neighbor 3 doors down who had a heart attack but doesn't have insurance? Do we care? Should the concept of insurance exist in health care - for that neighbor, for me for you? Is $9 per hour a living wage? Can I pay rent, utilities, food, busfare on $9 per hour? Is it OK that 50,000 factories are gone in the last 12 years? That's 4166 factories per year gone forever, not coming back. That's 83 factories x 50 states per year for 12 years. That's 750,000 jobs per month when Bush was in office toward the end. Is this what we want? Can we create a society once again where we can send our kids to school. go to work for a living, even spending wage, take a vacation or two, go to the hospital when sick, participate in the betterment of our society, help others less fortunate than ourselves, spend time with our family because we're not working 3 jobs? We had this society 60 years ago. Or shouid we be profit profit profit only? Can we have people and planet in that profit equation? Personally less stuff purchased for me me me and more kindness given for you and you and you makes me feel happy and good. I won't be shopping at Walmart on Black Friday in support of the employees who have truthful issues.
Melanie Morsovillo Jarvis November 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Erica the point is that walamrt makes zillions and should pay their employees a fair wage and treat them with respect, perhaps you should watch something other than fox so called news
Grandpamike November 21, 2012 at 01:26 PM
@Desiree Very well said. Unfortunately this country has become one of individualism and not collectivism, and until we change that, it will only get worse.
mray November 24, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I can remember when there were plenty of jobs available and employers offered benefits like health isurance in order to hire/attract the best people. When things were profitable, they would share with the employees through profit sharing (remember that?) People could change jobs if they didn't like a place. Now, (thanks to NAFTA which enabled a lot of employers to move to cheaper places to produce goods) that is all gone. Employers are in business to make money, that's what they do. They are not in it to enrich employees. There are so many people out of work that if you don't like a place, too bad, there are a lot of people in line right behind you that will do the job, benefits or not. Until there are plenty of jobs in America, employers will continue to run things the way they see fit since they are the ones writing the checks. If the jobs come back, things will change but not until then.
Rev December 05, 2012 at 09:51 AM
Really? "Workers have a unalienable right to organize" , please show my EXACTLY where in the US Constitution you are granted that "right". You want to organize? Go ahead, but a business should also be able to fire you for doing so.


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