Walmart's vice president of communications David Tovar defended the company’s wage and labor practices
On Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, consumers at Walmart locations around the country may find themselves in the middle of a vast protest.
Support appears to be growing for a worker walkout called for by labor groups. On Twitter, the movement is coalescing around the hashtag #WalmartStrikers as people advocate for the strike, hoping to see the number of walkouts grow.
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In Maryland, WUSA9's Andrea McCarren reported that "two busloads of demonstrators" were protesting outside of a Prince George's location. However, only "about a half dozen" of them were actually employed by Walmart.
TheNation.com blogger Josh Eidelson writes that Walmart has asked a judge to shut down active pickets by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. In turn, he says labor groups have filed their own charges that the big box retailer is "punishing and threatening activist workers," who are protesting working conditions.
A Walmart rep told Eidelson by email that the company filed charges because their employees asked them to "do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts..."
CBS News's Ben Tracy reported on the protesters' demands. They want their hourly pay raised to $13 and health insurance that is more affordable, especially as Walmart plans to scale back its contribution.
And they say they want retaliation against protesting workers to end.
The first walkout in Walmart's history was this October, writes Kathleen Miles of the Huffington Post. That's when 70 workers from nine stores walked off the job, even though they weren't protected by a labor union.
The fact is that many of the workers aren't members of a formal labor union. However, they have been spurred on by labor groups like OUR Walmart, Sum Of Us, Making Change at Walmart, and the Corporate Action Network, which is organizing "marquee events" in nine major cities around the country, like Washington, DC., Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle, among others.
As the public becomes more aware of working conditions at retailers like Walmart, the final straw may actually be the "Black Friday creep" that's seen early morning store openings begin on Thanksgiving night instead. That, writes Hadley Malcolm and Oliver St. John for USA TODAY, may be what ultimately draws the most criticism from consumers and workers alike.