Walmart workers are planning a massive, nationwide walk off of work ahead of Black Friday, the shopping mania day after Thanksgiving, to pressure the world's largest retailer to improve its pay, hours, and health benefits.
Even with a week to go, the protest has already started. On Wednesday and Thursday, employees walked off the job in Southern California and Seattle, according to Common Dreams news site. Organizers say that there will be some 1,000-store protests leading up to Black Friday. Protests will include more walk offs, rallies and online actions. Some of the cities where this will occur include: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and in the states of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota.
"No matter how hard we work, my husband and I can't catch up on our bills," said Charlene Fletcher, an OUR Walmart leader from Duarte, California, in a statement.
Both Charlene and her husband, Greg, work at Walmart. Greg has worked at Walmart for six years, while Charlene has been an employee for 2 ½ years. This Thanksgiving, they were both scheduled to work, which means they won't be with their two children, aged two and five.
"It's heartbreaking to miss the holiday with them, and it's just one more way that Walmart is showing its disregard for our families. But when our co-workers speak out about problems like these, Walmart turns their schedules upside down, cuts their hours and even fires people," Charlene said in a statement. "We're going on strike for an end to Walmart's attempts to silence its workers."
This is not the first time workers have protested Walmart. Just last October, workers in Los Angles went on strike and soon employees in 12 other cities followed suit. The workers are protesting this year for the same thing as the strike in October: better pay, fairer schedules and more affordable healthcare.
In a statement to 4029TV.com, Walmart said that employees who work on Thanksgiving will receive holiday pay.
And Sarah Spence, director of Corporate Communications for Wal-Mart, also told 4029TV.com, "This year, we're also providing them an additional 10 percent discount on one basket of goods. Additionally, we are providing three hot meals during the day on Thanksgiving for associates who will be working."
Fortune Magazine ranks Walmart as number two in its Fortune 500 list. The company earned $446 billion in 2011.