By Ruth Conniff on November 20, 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:

RESPECT

ENDING RETALIATION FOR SPEAKING OUT

A FREE & FAIR CHOICE OF ASSOCIATION

A LIVING WAGE (ABOVE POVERTY LEVEL)

FAIR SCHEDULING

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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Dubbed “Ferguson to Madison,” the rally drew striking social parallels between the two cities.

Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by the police in the United States.

Darren Wilson is free to go back to his job policing the citizens of Ferguson, if he wants. Michael Brown is dead...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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