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Black Friday strikes? Walmart workers vow big protests

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Protesters outside a Secaucus, New Jersey Walmart.

Protesters outside a Secaucus, New Jersey Walmart.

NEW YORK — Some aggrieved Walmart workers and their advocates have a slew of grievances. And for the third year in a row, they will air them on one of the busiest shopping days: Black Friday.

Protesters are expected to gather outside 1,600 Walmart stores across the country as the retailer launches doorbuster deals.

That would be more than ever before, according to organizers. Some demonstrations are planned for Wednesday, while others will take place on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday.

Among the bigger events are expected in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Tampa, Dallas, Denver and Sacramento. Walmart has 4,281 U.S. stores.

Some workers are expected to strike, walking off the job during their shift. They will be joined by teachers and other community leaders.

The demonstrators are backed by groups like OUR Walmart, which has union ties. And they are calling for higher wages (a minimum of $15 an hour) and fair schedules.

In response, a Walmart spokeswoman said a lot of the demonstrators are not Walmart workers and do not accurately reflect the views of its employees.

CEO Doug McMillon said last month that only 6,000 of the company’s 1.3 million U.S. workers are paid at the minimum wage. He vowed that the company would eventually pay all its workers above the minimum wage.

At least one Walmart employee planning to protest this week said it’s not just about money.

“We’re overworked, underpaid and disrespected,” said Shomari Lewis, who works overnights in Arlington, Texas, stocking inventory.

One of his biggest complaints: He says his workload has increased over the past couple of years, without what he feels is a commensurate increase in pay.

Walmart protesters come out from time to time throughout the year, but most demonstrations happen around Black Friday. Fast-food and other retail workers have also been protesting in recent years, asking to be paid a living wage.

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  • Gregg Jungers

    I’ve been a union member for the last 30 years and even with a strong union there is retaliation so I can tell you as seasoned representative that the striking Walmart employees have been enduring many forms of retaliation so they will shut up and work. They have my deepest admiration because they are constantly treated in a manner that makes them fearful yet they have the courage to move forward and raise the standard of living for others and themselves.
    Furthermore employees on any national holiday should be paid double time and a half if they work and regular full time wages for each day not worked including days off. That is called respecting your employees.
    Companies like Walmart should have to pay a federally mandated tiered minimum wage based off their annual profits. So a company that profits like Walmart could have a minimum wage of $50 an hour and yet others could pay $8. It’s only fare to share that pie at the end of each day because just like Abe Lincoln said” Capitol is much inferior to Labor for it would not exist without it and Labor deserves the highest consideration and not to do so is treason”.

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