5:13am November 25, 2012

Walmart Workers Strike, Sales Not Affected

Walmart Thanksgiving weekend

Most Americans associate the end of November with two things: turkey and sales. While many were seasoning their bird the night before Thanksgiving, others were busy making signs — placards and posters for a highly publicized picket line.

Walmart workers around the country threatened to strike on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year.

This November, the world’s largest retailer started the shopping season early, shelling out deals the evening of Thanksgiving. The change in schedule is one reason why some chose to strike, but it’s not the overall cause.

Employees at Walmart have been speaking out against the store for months, demanding better salaries.

Retails Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy,” is a study by Demos policy analyst, Catherine Ruetshlin. It says that raising wages for full-time retail workers to $25,000 per year could result in improving the lives of more than 1.5 million workers currently hovering above the poverty line.

Walmart paid its top six executives $59 million in compensation in the last fiscal year. The Walton family, who control 48% of the company, have a combined family fortune estimated at over $102 billion.

Hourly pay at Walmart starts at $8.81 and wage caps prevent some employees from gaining a fair raise.

Poor working conditions have also been a cause for complaints, along with inadequate health care benefits. Employees are striking for what they believe are basic worker’s rights.

The Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) is a non-union group made up of 5,000 members that receives support from the United Food Commercial Workers Union. Last month, members organized strikes and protests in cities across the country, including Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Seattle, and the Bay area.

OUR Walmart’s past efforts managed to raise the number of hours employees need to qualify for health benefits. But inconsistent scheduling prevents many from working enough hours to meet the requirements.

Striking seems to have helped some aspects of the job, some claim it’s also caused animosity against employees. Workers have filed complaints against Walmart to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming strikers have been retaliated against and some have lost their jobs.

Complaints against Walmart isn’t a new thing, but it is the first time that Walmart has responded by requesting an injunction through the NLRB against union-backed workers. Some stores have also made it a point to tell employees why it’s not in their best interest to go on strike.

Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation told HuffPost Live “they’re paying workers to sit in and be lectured to why they shouldn’t participate,” he said. “(Employees) were told by a manager reading from a script, if they participate on Black Friday it’s going to hurt their bonuses because it’s going to turn away business.”

Workers’ threats received a lot of media attention, but Walmart’s Ashley Hardie, Manager of Media Relations said Walmart wasn’t worried. “These so called protests involve a handful of associates at a handful of stores. In fact most of the protesters don’t even work for Walmart,” she said. “They are union organizers and union members. We are laser focused on serving customers on Black Friday and we are preparing to have our best Black Friday ever.”

Organizers say the Walmart strike hit 100 cities on the eve and day of Black Friday. At Paramount, CA. about 1,500 people participated in the protest.

But other cities, such as those in Martin County, Florida did not receive the turnout OUR Walmart may have desired. After visiting Walmarts on Thursday and Friday in Martin County, no striker was in sight and the store was flooded by shoppers looking for deals on toys and electronics.

David Tovar, Vice President of Corporate Communications said, “The number of protests being reported by the UFCW are grossly exaggerated. It was proven last night – and again today – that the OUR Walmart group doesn’t speak for the 1.3 million Walmart associates. We had our best Black Friday ever.”

In a press release sent out Friday morning, Walmart reported that, “the retailer saw larger crowds than last year,” and had already sold 1.3 million televisions, 1.3 million dolls, 1.8 million towels and 250,000 bicycles.

OUR Walmart’s efforts did not put a dent on the retailer’s Black Friday sales, but it did bring attention to what some feel are unfair working conditions at the store. This was the first attempt to organize nationwide protests and surely it won’t be the last.


This youtube clip shows business as usual on Thursday night for the Black Friday sales:

About the Author

Iris Estrada
Iris Estrada
American by birth, Mexican by blood, and curious by nature. Iris is a bilingual freelance writer who grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border then spent her teen years in the Dominican Republic. She moved to Canada to pursue her university degree in journalism and international development studies and is currently residing in Florida. As a proud Latina, Iris is passionate about covering stories that applaud diversity and center on issues affecting visible minorities. She's an advocate for immigration rights, a food-truck lover, and a self-proclaimed professional people-watcher.



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  1. [...] their holiday dollars elsewhere, the store’s bottom line remained robust this weekend. Still, Politics365 reports that the superstore is taking the protests seriously enough to hold employee seminars on [...]

  2. [...] holiday dollars elsewhere, the store’s bottom line remained robust this weekend. Still, Politics365 reports that the superstore is taking the protests seriously enough to hold employee seminars on [...]

  3. [...] holiday dollars elsewhere, the store’s bottom line remained robust this weekend. Still, Politics365 reports that the superstore is taking the protests seriously enough to hold employee seminars on [...]

  4. [...] about the business and labor practices of the world’s largest retailer have increased, despite sales not being affected by the political actions. Some issues that have come to light include the [...]

  5. If Wallmart is not paying their employees enough why don’t they go get other jobs. Pay in Wyoming is half again what this article seems to infer.

    • Another mis-informed idiot American! Get a life and keep your fuckin mouth sht!

    • Hard to believe that this person is a college student. Must be a doper from the 60′s draft dodger who came home from Canada after Viet Nam and went to college to become a destroyer of young minds. (Which is an easy thing to do) This vile person cannot complete a sentence without inserting vulgarities which only takes away from his arguments. It’s a pity that these types have any forum at all to push their Marxist crap.

    • Because WalMart has put all the other small family owned retailers out of business in our small town – it’s Walmart or NO JOB AT ALL. And for that “no walmart employees protested” well because I know damn well they will either fire those who did, or make them miserable with ridiculous hours, cut hours, and other retaliation. They punished me for having the temerity to take a day off to stay with my husband when he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. I should have gone to work and to hell with if my husband dies – long as Walmart doesn’t miss a sale while he does it.

    • You should look up the meaning of words instead of using them ignorantly. The article implies; YOU infer.

      That said, I see no justification for the conclusion stated in the title.

      Saying sales were unaffected by the protests is like saying the economy would have done better over the last 4 years if McCain/Palin had won in 2008. There is absolutely no proof of either theory. I tell ya wut.

    • Pat you must have money and do not live check to check because if you really understood what you said and lived at the min. wage you should know how wrong you are thank God for what you have because if it was that easy everyone would do it

  6. I don’t understand why anyone would shop at Walmart in the first place! All they have to offer are Inferior products and unethical business practices!

  7. Another BS from liberal media. Most protesters was not a Walmart workers, but people from Unions and even from Occupies. Unions destroyed Hosstess, now they have their eyes on WalMart.If people think, they underpaid on their job, why they agree to do it in first place? And I agree with Pat Philpott Robinson. If they think they didn’t paid enough, why they didn’t find another job. Unions play dirty games under Democrats ruling, because they think they are untouchable, and can do whatever they want. From what media saying, they want to destroy WallMart and put 1.4 workers out of job. Why?

    • bad management and a Bain Capital job destroyed hostess and you’re using organized labor as a scapegoat.

    • I suggest you re-read the final chapter of the story, the judge gave the baker’s union 1 extra day of negotiations, the union decided better NO job than the loss of some benefits, and took everyone else employed down with them.

    • Daniel Neal I suggest you read about the Hostess situation. Hostess came out of bankruptcy in 2009 with a court agreement for lower pay in exchange for an equity stake for the union. Since then, management tripled their own pay and is now asking for more pay cuts for the union. That is why there was no agreement. Why doesn’t management take the same pay cuts as the union did?

      The real story is that there have been a series of Private Equity firms buying the firm, borrowing money, then asking for the workers to take pay cuts. When one runs out of options, it sells to the next for higher stakes. It was a Private Equity ponzii play that was destined to hit a limit at some point. That limit has now been reached.

    • stop with the bain crap. election over. find someone else to blame…how about all the leeches that want their pensions without putting anything alse back into the system???

    • Daniel Neal by ” loss of some benefits” you mean a 17% pay cut (the second one they had since they negotiated in good faith 3 years ago) and a 10-20% increase in the cost of benefits. Those people went from 14$ an hour in 2008 to less then 9$ an hour if they would have take hostesses offer. At 9$ I would quit and just go bag groceries or mow lawns too.

    • @ Rina Gray. ” If they think they didn’t paid enough, why they didn’t find another job.” I don’t know where you live but in small towns in the midwest and elsewhere, Walmart is the only place in town to work. If you were faced with the choice of feeding your family by working at Walmart for pennies or starving to death, what would you choose??

    • Do you even know how to speak without profanity? Your points suffer because of it.

    • Justin Rohal From what I read, people from USA get unemployed checks and food stamps and even free cell phones. So it’s far from starving to death. By the way what this people want to fulfil with strike? Did they got to payed more? I don’t think so. Would they be fired? With no doubt. So this strike is not a good idea for this employers anyway. And this workers are put their demands on wrong people. Employers have no right to demand anything from employees, because they signed agreement for the wages they earn. If they disagree with the wages, they should resigned. And the minimum wages should be established by law of the Government, not employers. The value of the minimum wage should be increased by government, not employers. Employers use the minimum wage established by government. If they don’t want, they have no obligation to increased it. So this employees and Unions should ask your government to make the minimum wage livable. But Unions will never do it. If the minimum wages would be enough to live on, there would be no reason to fight and there would be no way to destroy big companies (because this is what their reason for all this strikes). In my country minimum wage is livable and every employee paying the same minimum wage in any company or business or on government job. The minimum wage law is the same for everyone and many people, who want to earn more just works longer hours or try to get bonuses with good work. The minimum wage in my country is increased by government only. So nobody is complaining it’s not good enough. It’s good enough to live on. And medic care paid by employers, not employee, because we have the same medic care for everyone from the day they born and payments taken directly from employers checks, as taxes and social security payments. From minimum wages, they didn’t pay allot, so it’s pretty good. Maybe you should do something like this in USA, so you will be not have reasons for complains.

  8. You can’t be serious about fixing the US economy unless you deal with the problem of outsourcing.

  9. Sales were affected. I spent my Black Friday money elsewhere and avoided Walmart in solidarity with the workers. I did my part – did you?

    • Once again we spent our Christmas cash on Amazon and local shops.

    • Flawless logic Daniel Neal. Because the ruling elite at Walmart aren’t directly affected by the boycott, we should just continue to shop there like little sheep and buy their made in china goods. Your defeatist attitude and apathy is exactly whats wrong with people in our country. Do us all a favor and educate yourself.

    • Thank you Joanne…I did NOT shop Wal-Mart will I ever! Fuck Wal-Mart!

    • Good choice! BOYCOTT! if it had worked, which are you hurting? Does management take a pay cut, OR get rid of the lower end salesperson that you are supporting to compensate if lower sales has occurred? EVERYONE is getting the attitude that someone else owes them something when they don’t have it, they took the job with a set pay and that was the only promise, if you don’t like it, then leave!

    • I do the same. Having worked for Walmart on three separate occasions, I can say that while they did employ me and I was able to earn a meager income, in the end it really wasn’t worth all the stress and BS that I has to deal with as an employee. Walmart could be an amazing company to work for if they would change the way they treat their employees, and if they would employ more competent managers. I had a few good managers while I worked for the company, but they didn’t last very long, as their positive ethical views weren’t accepted as part of the Walmart corporate culture. I think it’s good that Walmart provides jobs for Americans, but when it comes to the retail sector, it’s one of the least desirable places to work. Company officials won’t admit it, but they DO use deceptive practices to ensure that most of their hourly employees won’t qualify for the benefits they offer, and they WILL find ways to fire employees that mention the word “union”. The best way to impact the company and make them take notice is to vote with your dollars, and shop elsewhere.

  10. […] Walmart Workers Strike: Sales Unaffected saved 614 days ago. […]

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