The Story of the Black Friday Strike
So, by now you’ve heard that Walmart workers are walking out on strike on Black Friday. Here’s a quick primer on why they’re striking.
Let’s start with the basics. Walmart is the largest private employer in the world. They help set labor standards for almost every country on earth.
Walmart generated at least $405 billion in revenue last year, making it the 23rd largest economy in the world. Larger than Sweden.
Walmart remains an incredibly profitable company. But Walmart’s profits are America’s loss. Between 2000-2006, Walmart imported so much stuff from Chinese manufacturers that it eliminated nearly 200,000 U.S. jobs.
Walmart pays employees so little that they’ve cost taxpayers an estimated $1 billion per year in government assistance to their workers.
The result? Walmart is crazy rich.
So rich, in fact, that the Walton family — which owns a 49% stake in Walmart — is worth more than the bottom 40% of all American families combined. That means six people are worth more than an entire third of America.
Walmart workers, however, struggle to pay their rent and feed their families. Store employees earn an average of $8.81/hr or just $15,500 a year.
But paying employees poverty wages isn’t enough for Walmart. They’ve also settled lawsuits alleging rampant wage theft from employees.
Locked workers in the store overnight.
And systematically pushed out full-time workers in favor of cheaper part-time workers.
This year, they decided to hike healthcare premiums for store employees by as much as 36%. And they don’t even offer health insurance to their part time employees.
They’ve also been messing with employee schedules, insisting on a new “flexible” scheduling policy. It’s flexible for Walmart, but not so much for workers. And let’s not forget they’ve chosen to open Walmart stores at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day this year.
Meanwhile, Walmart employees have filed numerous class action lawsuits and EEOC complaints over the years, alleging systemic discrimination and other illegal employment practices.
Eventually, Walmart associates got fed up.
Two years ago, Walmart employees formed the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). Now they’ve got thousands of Walmart associates nationwide who are organizing around issues like erratic hours, low wages and retaliation by management in their stores.
Nothing like this has ever has ever happened in Walmart’s 50-year history. It’s an unprecedented moment for workers’ rights in America.
But Walmart has responded by attempting to silence its workers. Walmart even called the police and handcuffed a former employee who had simply been inside the store, talking to ex-coworkers about the Black Friday strike.
Then Walmart filed an “Unfair Labor Practice” (yes, we had the same reaction) last week.
So, now we’re three days away from the first nationwide strike of Walmart associates ever. How can you support the cause? There are a number of ways:
1. Show up on Black Friday and support the strikers.
2. Sponsor a Walmart striker by donating towards a $50 grocery gift card.
3. Donate your Facebook & Twitter account to Walmart strikers on Black Friday.
4. If you work at Walmart, become a member of OUR Walmart.
The bottom line is this — OUR Walmart is just getting started.