By Ruth Conniff on Nov 25, 2012
On Black Friday there will be over 1,000 strikes, rallies, and actions at Walmart stores across the nation.
Workers began speaking out last week after Walmart told them to prepare for early store openings at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day, in advance of Black Friday, making it impossible to spend the holiday with their families.
The workers are also worried about their safety during the lethal Black Friday rush.
But most of all, they are fed up with making poverty-level wages, no benefits, and facing discrimination and disrespect in their jobs for the world's largest retailer.
"A few people are just making plans to have Thanksgiving [dinner] over the weekend — they can’t even do it on the actual holiday,” Mary Pat Tifft, a 24-year Walmart employee in Kenosha, Wisconsin, whose son Troy will be visiting from a military base in Afghanistan for the first time in two years, told the New York Post.
While it pays its mostly female sales force such low wages that many turn to local food pantries to get their meals, the family that owns Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, has accumulated as much wealth as the bottom 45 million Americans combined.
Along with rock-bottom wages, intensifying pressure to work off the clock, and losing their holiday, workers are speaking out about Walmart's manipulation of hours and benefits, its effort to save money by juggling workers to keep individuals from working full-time, and a record of discrimination against women and people of color.
"Stand up. Live better," the workers' slogan, is a take-off on Walmart's "Save money. Live better."
If you cannot make it to a Black Friday rally near you, you can print out and sign a "worker support card".
Here is the text:
Dear Mike Duke (CEO, Walmart), I AM A WALMART CUSTOMER.
I support Walmart associates and warehouse workers in their fight for:
ENDING RETALIATION FOR SPEAKING OUT
A FREE & FAIR CHOICE OF ASSOCIATION
A LIVING WAGE (ABOVE POVERTY LEVEL)
I believe that a company as profitable as Walmart should treat their hardworking associates and warehouse workers fairly. This is why I will Stand Up with associates and warehouse workers so they can Live Better.
Also, please watch this amazing video of Walmart workers speaking out and rallying at Walmart Store #1 in Arkansas.
Then leave your wallet at home and bring your picket sign to a Walmart near you on Black Friday.
If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Dean Baker: On Fiscal Cliff, Best Deal Might Be No Deal".
Follow Ruth Conniff @rconniff on Twitter
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