Planning on going to Walmart on Friday morning to catch some Black Friday deals? You may cross a picket line as you run for a discounted iPad. Thousands of angry employees are holding strikes outside of Walmart stores all over the country as they demand for better pay. Here are the top 10 facts you need to know about the Walmart strike.
1. The Average Walmart Employee Earns $8.81 an Hour
Walmart is America’s largest employer, but its average employee only earns about $8.81 an hour, hardly enough to make a living. In fact, a rigid pay structure makes it difficult for employees to rise above poverty-level wages. Half a century ago, America’s largest employer was General Motors whose average full time employee earned $50 an hour in today’s dollars. A main reason behind the shift is due to a decline in labor unions. “In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do,” reports TruthDig.
2. Workers are Planning on Holding Strikes at 1,000 Locations Across the United States on Black Friday
Walmart workers are beginning at least 1,000 nationwide non-violent protests leading up to and on Black Friday including strikes, rallies and flash mobs. Last week, protests kicked off when Walmart warehouse workers from California, Seattle and Dallas walked off the job. Washington DC joined them yesterday and additional strikes in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota are to come.
“We’re not trying to shut down business, we are supporting our co-workers who speak out for better working conditions,” said Yesenia Yaber, a two-year Walmart Associate in Chicago, Ill.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to speak out about our concerns — I’m willing to put my job on the line,” says Monique Velasquez, a single mother of five who works in Wal-Mart’s photo department in Pico Rivera, California.
“They pay low wages, then the taxpayers pick up the tab for food stamps and Medicaid,” Vanessa Ferreira said, a woman who decorates cakes at a Walmart in St. Cloud, Fla. “They need to take care of their people. They need to be responsible to their workers.”
3. There’s been Decades of Failed Unionization Attempts
4. Employees are Also Fighting Against Lousy Hours
A third of Walmart employees work less than 28 hours a week have have no benefits. Many ask for full-time hours, but get denied.
5. Walmart is Still Planning on Opening its Doors
If this doesn’t make you boycott the super corporation or to even join the protestors at the picket line, don’t worry, Walmart isn’t planning on the strikes affecting Black Friday. Walmarts everywhere are going full steam ahead with Black Friday “doorbuster” deals starting at 8 p.m. on Thursday, just after Thanksgiving Day dinner.
6. Walmart is Fighting Back
Walmart isn’t just sitting back and watching things unfold. The company filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in an attempt to stop the protests on Black Friday, alleging that the strikes violate the National Labor Relations Act, which prohibits picketing for any period over 30 days without filing a petition to form a union. Though, Walmart might have gotten themselves in trouble because if employee’s claims are true, Walmart could itself be found in violation of the act, which protects workers against retaliation for speaking up, according to Angela Cornell, director of the Labor Law Clinic at Cornell University’s law school.
7. A Pay Increase Could Lift 700,000 Employees Out of Poverty
The average retail workers makes between $18,000 and $21,000 a year. If the salary of all full-time workers got raised to at least $25,000, it would lift more than 700,000 employees out of poverty. But if all the employees got raises, would the price of Walmart products go up? Not by much. The price of products would only rise by one percent.
8. Walmart Tweeted About the Protests
Don’t believe everything you read in the union press releases. We don’t think their #BlackFriday activity will have an impact on customers.
— Walmart Newsroom (@WalmartNewsroom) November 20, 2012
9. Black Friday Deals Include the Apple iPad 2, a Sansung 43-Inch Plasma HDTV and an LG Blu-Ray Player
The Apple iPad 2 will be only $399 and includes a $75 Walmart gift card if bought on Black Friday at the store. The Samsung 43-Inch Plasma HDTV is going for $378 and the LG blue-ray player just $38, among other deals.
10. Employees Everywhere are Fed Up
Employees everywhere seem to be fed up with bad work conditions. Recently, Hostess was put out of business because a nationwide worker strike crippled the snack cake production. This is evidence that strikes CAN and DO WORK.