While most Americans think of Black Friday as a day to shop for low deals and as retailers prepare for one of the busiest shopping days of the year, workers at Walmart and a few other retail stores used the day to fight the terrible working conditions that they face.
Walmart employs the most people in the country, but is also the number one job destroyer in this country. For every two jobs Wal-Mart creates, it destroys three jobs. The reason is that Walmart often forces a lot of local-small businesses to close, and the workers who end up working at Walmart make less than what they would have at one of the local businesses.
But, how low does Walmart actually pay? Most Walmart workers make minimum wage. These wages are so low that Walmart workers are the country’s largest recipients of welfare programs such as food stamps and Medicare; in fact, the average Walmart store costs taxpayers $400,000 each year.
So in protest over their low pay, long hours and hard work, workers walked out on strike on Black Friday in hopes to unionize and to have Walmart meet their demands for more fair working conditions.
Protests began on Thursday night and continued into Friday. The protests were met with community support from other labor unions, Occupy Movement activists, and local community members who want to see workers treated fairly by their employer.
At some of these protests, workers and other activists conducted civil disobedience and were arrested; there is an estimated of over 110 people who were arrested for protesting Walmart’s corporate greed.
However, these Walmart strikes and Black Friday protests are part of a bigger movement to unite the 99% of the population against corporate greed. They are part of a new movement of workers called “Fight for $15” who seek to raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour.
The fight to raise the minimum wage has been echoed by President Obama in a recent speech to supporters on Dec. 4 when he called for a fair raise in wages that would ensure those working fulltime for minimum wage could earn enough to stay above the poverty line.
On Wednesday Nov. 27, workers at Whole Foods in Chicago walked out on strike in order to have Thanksgiving Day off. Sensing the clout the protests have gained, and wishing to avoid negative backlash, Whole Foods sided with the workers and allowed workers to stay home on Thanksgiving.
Although there is no word on how much more successful these strikes were, many workers feel like they had made a point to their employers.