Tags: wal-mart | strike | black | friday

Wal-Mart Workers Plan Strike on Black Friday

Friday, 16 Nov 2012 09:37 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A major work stoppage is looming for the world's largest retailer as threats of a Wal-Mart Black Friday strike increase.

Since workers walked off the job Wednesday at a California warehouse, 30 Wal-Mart workers at six Seattle locations have joined the strike. Organizers say the strike will culminate in a 1000-store protest across the nation the day after Thanksgiving, one of the year’s busiest shopping days.

The protest has been organized by Making Change at Wal-Mart (MCW), a union-backed employee coalition that for years has been battling Wal-Mart management in their attempts to unionize the workforce.

Protesting low wages, high health premiums and alleged management retaliation, workers plan similar walkouts throughout next week at Wal-Mart stores in Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Chicago and Washington D.C.

“I work full-time for one of the richest companies in the world, and my kids get state health insurance and are on food stamps,” striking Wal-Mart Manager Sara Gilbert said in Bloomberg Businessweek.

During the same Thursday conference call between protesting workers and reporters, Texas Wal-Mart associate Colby Harris shared Gilbert’s desperation saying that after working for Wal-Mart for three years he still earns only $8.90 per hour.

“We have to borrow money from each other just to make it to work . . . I’m on my lunch break right now, and I have two dollars in my pocket," Harris said. "I’m deciding whether to use it to buy lunch or to hold on to it for next week."

According to Harris, pay-check deductions for his health-care will triple in January if company management goes forward with its plans to cut back on health-care premium contribution to workers in 2013.

In response to the strike, Wal-Mart Spokesman Kory Lundberg dismissed the action.

“Basically what we are seeing here is just another exaggerated publicity campaign used to generate headlines to mislead our customers and associates . . . The fact is many of these ongoing tactics being orchestrated by the UFCW are unlawful and we will act to protect our associates and customers from the ongoing illegal conduct,” said Lundberg.

Wal-Mart, with its 4,200-plus stores and approximately 2,000,000 employees brings in over $400 billion annually according to Statisticbrain.com.

The average annual salary for a Wal-Mart associate is $15,500 according to MCW, based on a study by IBIS World, a market research company.

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