Many Walmart workers advocating for higher wages announced that they were planning large-scale protests at more than 1,600 Walmart stores nationwide on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and America’s biggest shopping day of the year.
Read more here on the Walmart Black Friday protests.
The labor organization, Our Walmart, notes that last year it staged Black Friday protests at between 1,200 and 1,400 Walmart stores. Wal-Mart Stores Inc, which is the largest private employer in the U.S., has been a lightning rod for labor activists within the heated national debate over raising the minimum wage.
The announcement was issued just one day after police jailed 23 workers outside a Los Angeles Walmart for protesting what the company’s low pay and its employment retaliation against those who are pushing for better working conditions. Those workers were arrested after several hours of protesting outside the store, according to Our Walmart and The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or UFCW. About 30 workers came into a Walmart store in L.A.’s Crenshaw neighborhood on Thursday morning and staged a sit-in protest for nearly two hours, as UFCW spokesman Marc Goumbri reported.
The workers then moved the protest to a Walmart store in Pico Rivera in the eastern sections of Los Angeles where the arrests took place. The police cited them with trespassing. When those 23 Walmart workers were arrested, they had been blocking an intersection and were charged with failure to disperse, police said. They were released shortly thereafter.
In an explanation posted on the UFCW website, the organization stated that “Over the last year, Walmart workers have pressured Walmart to change its pregnancy policy, provide access to more hours and most recently to pledge to phase out its minimum wage jobs.”
When questioned about the workers’ complaints, spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan responded that Wal-Mart does not retaliate against workers for striking or protesting. “The reality is that few Walmart associates participate in these labor-organized protests,” she said.
Last month, Wal-Mart’s Chief Executive Douglas McMillon stated that the company would move to gradually phase out minimum wage jobs, a measure many consider to be largely symbolic as only 6,000 of its 1.3 million U.S. workers make minimum wage. The average full-time hourly wage at Walmart is $12.92, which is certainly greater than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the company noted.