On Black Friday, thousands of people chose not to go on shopping at Walmart, but to camp in front of it and protest against low hourly wages and inconsistent work schedules. The action was organized by Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), a workers union backed up by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, in about 1600 Walmarts nationwide. This is the third consecutive year of Black Friday protests against Wal-Mart.
Protests were held in several locations –D.C., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Calif., and St. Paul, Minn., Long Beach, Northern New Jersey, and many more.
In D.C., about 200 to 400 people gathered outside Walmart on H Street Northwest asking for a $15 hourly wage and full-time schedule for part-time workers. $15 per hour was the same wage fast-food strikers demanded. After an hour, the D.C. protest against Walmart was dispersed by the police.
On Wednesday, there was a sit-down strike inside H Street Northwest Walmart store, where protesters had tape over their mouths as a symbol of Walmart’s silencing practices.
Melinda Gaino, 45, is a Walmart worker, who earns $9.90 per hour. She said she already missed three shifts but she wasn’t going to give up the fight. Gaino also said that she fought for her colleagues who aren’t able to support their families because they don’t get enough working hours.
Gerts is a full time Walmart employee, she gets $10.30 per hour and benefits (plus an extra $2.5 per hours for overnights), but she cannot cover her basic living expenses. She said there were numerous times when she had to borrow a nickel to buy a 30-cents ramen soup. Protesters are asking only for a living wage to support themselves and their families and that should be a basic right, Gerts added.
Elizabeth is Walmart part-time employee with a $9.40 hourly wage. She works 30 to 40 hours a week but, since she’s a part-timer she doesn’t get any benefits. Elizabeth said that she and her colleagues lived off cheap food and sometimes they couldn’t afford even that. If it hadn’t been for her family, she would have starved, Elizabeth also said.
A Walmart spokesman said their employee were very happy since they changed schedule practices in April. Now part-time workers can get extra shifts, and more than 170,000 workers were promoted to higher position.
“There is a reason that the hungry people choose to come to work for us. The Walmart job is a good job,”
he added. There are currently 1.4 Million Americans working at Walmart.
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