Walmart workers in at least six states have submitted formal strike notices for the day of Black Friday to demand higher, livable wages and better hours.
This is the third year in a row that Walmart workers have protested on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving known for stores opening for longer hours and offering reduced prices that is considered the biggest shopping day of the year. A union-backed labor campaign called OUR Walmart has launched a nationwide strike against the chain, calling for wages of $15 an hour – the same wage fast-food workers are demanding.
In many cases, OUR Walmart will be picketing and protesting outside Walmart. Workers who plan to strike will most likely only strike for a single day. Under federal law, companies are not allowed to retaliate against workers who strike over wages or working conditions.
Barbara Gertz, a Walmart employee in Colorado who is also a member of OUR Walmart, told Al Jazeera, “They haven’t tried to fire me yet … but I’ve seen them retaliate in large ways against my co-workers, and they’ve kicked me out of a store just for walking through it with my OUR Walmart T-shirt.”
Walmart argues OUR Walmart strikes are not legally protected strikes. Walmart also argues its employees overwhelmingly do not participate in these strikes. Organizers of the first OUR Walmart strike in 2012, however, say that more than 500 Walmart workers participated.
Some workers in Ohio have already gone on strike, and OUR Walmart says they guarantee work stoppages this year.
Glova Scott, a 59-year-old woman who earns $10.90 an hour at Walmart says she plans to be a part of this strike.
“It’s hard. We work in an atmosphere where the pay doesn’t make ends meet, and a lot of my co-workers think the solution is to look for another job rather than try to improve conditions,” she said. “I joined because I wanted to be part of a movement. I’m looking forward to going back to work and encouraging my co-workers to join me.”
Media Resources: Huffington Post 11/26/14; Al Jazeera 11/25/14; Fight for $15