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Offline Riney

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Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
« on: November 20, 2012, 23:33:13 PM »
TUESDAY, NOV 20, 2012 04:42 PM EST
Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
Everything you need to know about the historic strikes and the attempts to shut them down VIDEO
BY NATASHA LENNARD

Employees at 1,000 Walmart stores across the country are planning to strike on Black Friday. The holiday period industrial action comes in the wake of a string of strikes by Walmart workers in several states and involving employees throughout the retailer’s supply chain. As Josh Eidelson noted at the Nation, “seafood workers [went on strike] in June, [followed] by warehouse workers in September, and by 160 retail workers in twelve states last month.”

“Black Friday,” wrote Eidelson, “workers have pledged — barring concessions from the company — will bring their biggest disruptions yet.” Walmart employees across the country have a host of grievances including unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, sexual harassment, excessive hours, forced labor and low pay. Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC flagged a leaked internal document (first obtained by HuffPo) that revealed that base pay  at Walmart’s Sam’s Place stores can be as low as $8 an hour (or $16,000 per year), with wage increases in increments as low as 20 or 40 cents per hour. To put this in context, Gawker recently highlighted a Demos study that says that raising the salary of all full-time workers at large retailers to $25,000 per year would lift more than 700,000 people out of poverty, at a cost of only a 1 percent price increase for customers.

Then, when Walmart announced plans to open stores on 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day — to extend the Black Friday shopping extravaganza in over 1,000 locations — more workers threatened to join the picket lines and strikes kicked off early in some areas.

Eidelson stressed the historic nature of the coordinated action:

Walmart, the world’s largest private sector employer, has been entirely union-free in the United States since its founding in Arkansas fifty years ago. Walmart’s cost-cutting and just-in-time logistics have revolutionized its industries—even for its unionized competitors. That’s made it an irresistible target for US unions, which have launched a series of campaigns against the company over the past two decades. But until last month, Walmart had never seen workers at multiple US stores go on strike.

That changed October 4, when workers struck at nine southern California stores for one day; a two-day, twelve-state strike followed on October 9. While that ended with an announcement that employees would return to work to mobilize coworkers for Black Friday, the past few weeks haven’t been entirely strike-free. This month has already seen a walkout at an Ennis, Texas, Walmart, and a sit-in and strike during the grand reopening of a store in Richmond, California.

The Black Friday strikes are supported by organized labor, but Walmart workers will likely remain un-unionized for some time. Much of the organizing for the wave of strikes has, however, come from union-backed groups including Warehouse Workers for Justice, a project of the Change to Win federation and the Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee, which is backed by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, as well as OUR Walmart, the retail workers group closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers.

Walmart has long been staunchly anti-union (new employees must watch a video, which dissuades workers against unionizing). In line with this, the corporation last week filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to preemptively ban the Black Friday strikes. The complaint alleges that the pickets are illegal. “Experts say that, if Walmart has strong enough evidence, an injunction could potentially be issued in time to block Black Friday pickets. But that’s a very big ‘if,’” reported Eidelson:

Walmart’s charge alleges that the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union is responsible for illegal “representational” picketing – that is, strikes designed to win union recognition from Walmart. Labor law generally forbids unions from engaging in representational pickets for more than thirty days (the US Supreme Court does not apply the same First Amendment protections to labor picketing as it does to “God Hates Fags” pickets at funerals).

Based on Walmart’s charge, and a cover letter sent to the UFCW, the NLRB faces two main questions. First, has OUR Walmart, the group organizing the Walmart store strikes, been acting as an affiliate or agent of the UFCW? And second, are these in fact representational strikes, as Walmart alleges, rather than strikes protesting “Unfair Labor Practices,” as OUR Walmart claims? On both questions, Walmart says yes; OUR Walmart and the UFCW say no.

Writing in the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse and Stephanie Clifford suggest that the NLRB complaint indicates the seriousness with which Walmart is taking the strikes:

Labor experts caution that the complaint, filed on Thursday, could be meant as a warning shot to discourage workers from participating since the labor relations board often takes months to make a ruling, but it nonetheless reflects how seriously the company has come to view a group that it had once dismissed as a nuisance…

All this points to an increasingly fierce contest between Walmart and labor groups that are bent on mobilizing and organizing the company’s work force, with a near-term goal of pressing for higher wages and a longer-term goal of emboldening workers to demand a union.

Some commentators, including Bloomberg’s Renee Dudley, are nonetheless skeptical about how much of a dent Friday’s strikes will make to the vast retailer. “The strategy risks showing the company’s strength not vulnerability,” Dudley noted, predicting that regardless of strikers, Black Friday shoppers will fill Walmart aisles come Friday (and Thursday in many locations). Indeed, Walmart’s official line is strident. In an interview with Fox News, Walmart spokesman David Tovar said with an odd frat house cadence, “We’re focused this week like a laser on Black Friday … It’s going to be an awesome event at Walmart.”

Meanwhile, strike supporters throughout the country will be staging protests to bolster the picket lines. Allison Kilkenny reported that a coalition, including Occupy Wall Street, 99 Pickets, ALIGN, Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, Retail Action Project, and other allies will occupy a Walmart store in North Jersey in solidarity with the workers, while Occupy chapters nationwide are also planning demonstrations. A list of solidarity protests and events — Occupy affiliated and other — can be found here.

Only by Friday will we see, however, how many of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. employees are willing to risk their livelihoods on the picket line.

the link: (contains link to video) http://www.salon.com/2012/11/20/walmarts_black_friday_showdown/
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2012, 23:44:09 PM »

   I have vowed to never step outside on Black Friday. I lock my doors, turn off the phone, and shut the curtains. I was never into shopping, much less in crowds of competitive ruthless holiday shoppers. Once, because I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving, I did have to run to a 24 hour convenience store for my mom at 5 am on Black Friday. Even at 5 am and even in a convenience store there was a crowd. In line in front of me there were teams of women shoppers getting their double shots of coffee before braving the front lines of the battlefield.
   Now, Walmart workers are threatening a strike. Expect pure mayhem for sure, it is usually Walmart security camera footage that I see on the Saturday morning news the day after that show the crowds trampling some poor hapless person that lost their footing and went down in the surge after the doors opened. 
    Thank goodness for Cyber Monday!  :D
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2012, 16:37:47 PM »
Wal-Mart Accused of Threatening Workers With Retaliation Ahead of Black Friday Walkouts, Protests
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Democracy Now!

Wal-Mart workers across the country are planning to stage unprecedented walkouts and protests on Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart has sought to counter the effort by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and, according to critics, threatening workers with retaliation. We’re joined by William Fletcher, a Wal-Mart worker and member of the employee advocacy group OUR Walmart; and Josh Eidelson, a contributing writer for The Nation. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]

GUESTS:
Josh Eidelson, Contributing writer for The Nation magazine who has been covering the strikes there. His most recent article is called, "Worker Group Alleges Walmart ‘Told Store-Level Management to Threaten Workers’ About Strikes."

William Fletcher, has worked in the electronics department of Walmart in Duarte, CA, for four years, and has been a member of OUR Walmart for two years.

the link: (contains link to video) http://www.democracynow.org/2012/11/21/wal_mart_accused_of_threatening_workers
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2012, 16:49:52 PM »
Buy Nothing. Do Something.

Choose Family over Frenzy
Sign and share the pledge to stay home with friends and family this Black Friday and choose family over frenzy.

Sponsor a Striker
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you work at Walmart. When Walmart workers have spoken out for better wages and benefits and a voice at work, Walmart has tried to silence and intimidate them.
But now Walmart associates are fighting back, launching a nationwide series of work actions and strikes at Walmart stores on Black Friday. Show them your support by buying them and their families — who are losing pay and risking their jobs — a gift card for food.

Share Your Story
It’s easy to believe everyone is caught up in the Black Friday madness. Breathless news reports trumpet the long lines and interview eager shoppers. Let’s show the world how great the Friday after Thanksgiving can be when it’s spent with friends and family.
We want to collect photos of people all over who are opting out of the Black Friday frenzy. Upload a picture of your shopping-free Black Friday festivities or share a photo that lists one of the zillions of things that are better than shopping.

the link: (contains links to video)  http://www.storyofstuff.org/blackfriday/
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear

Offline Riney

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Re: Walmart’s Black Friday showdown
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2012, 22:26:32 PM »
Occupy Walmart: Workers Plan Black Friday Protests
Allison Kilkenny on November 20, 2012 - 1:50 PM ET
The Nation



http://www.thenation.com/sites/default/files/user/191975/walmart-strike.jpeg

Walmart workers are planning to mark Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with pickets outside of stores and warehouses across the country.

Former and current employees of the giant corporation describe systemic abuse and harassment by management at Walmart stores and warehouses. When asked about their demands, many workers talk about the desire for management to respect and listen to the workers. OUR Walmart, a protest group seeking justice and accountability from Walmart, also wants to see the minimum wage raised to $13 an hour and for full-time jobs to made available to “associates” who want them. Other demands include a dependable, predictable work schedule, affordable healthcare, no discrimination and wages that ensure no Walmart worker has to rely on government assistance to survive.

Walmart is one of the biggest recipients of government subsidies, receiving tax breaks, free land, cash grants and other forms of public assistance, in addition to paying some of its workers so little that they also turn to the federal government for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

However, even Walmart employees who make better wages complain about abuse on the job. An employee at a Walmart distribution center in Gas City, Indiana, initially decided to work at the big-box chain because his job pays almost $20 an hour, and he couldn’t find another job that paid that well in his area. The worker, who asked to remain anonymous because he’s afraid of being fired for going public with his complaints, says that Walmart has the attitude that because they pay workers well the employees are “required to be their slaves.”

His job is to load heavy boxes, sometimes weighing up to seventy pounds, onto pallets stacked six feet tall in a freezer that has a temperature of minus-twenty degrees. He is also given very short time limits for each pallet to be completed, so he normally ends up running down aisles with heavy boxes to make his rate.

One day, he cut a fairly large gash in his leg by scraping one of the wooden pallets and his leg started bleeding. When he asked his manager for a bandage, he was told that if he were given one one, they’d have to write him up for not being careful enough on the job. Instead, he worked all day with an open wound because he was afraid that one more write-up could get him fired.

This is part of a system of harassment and intimidation. The worker goes on to explain that Walmart is notorious for telling employees they will be fired upon their first utterance of the word “union,” and they are encouraged to not report on-the-job injuries. If the equipment breaks while they’re using it, regardless of the cause, the employees will be written up. There are four categories of write-ups, and once they get written up four times, they are automatically fired with no questions asked.

Dan Hindman has worked at a Walmart near Los Angeles for four years. The former employee of the month, who makes $9.80 an hour, told CBS News that even though he is scheduled to work on Black Friday, he doesn’t plan to show up.

“Walmart needs to learn that it’s not fair how they treat us,” Hindman says.

“We don’t want to walk out on Black Friday. We don’t want to do this. It’s just something we have to do, because it’s the right thing to do,” Hindman says.

He says his schedule was cut to 15 hours per week when he joined a group of Walmart employees who favor unionizing. He lost custody of his four-year-old son when he could no longer support him.

“So I lost my son and I’m kind of regretting working for Walmart, but I have to provide, you know?” says an emotional Hindman. “It’s the biggest retailer in the world, and you can’t help me provide for my son? It kills me, dude. It really tears me apart, big time.”

In order to show solidarity with Walmart workers, the Occupy movement has organized a series of grassroots events across the country. A coalition, including Occupy Wall Street, 99 Pickets, ALIGN, Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, Retail Action Project and other allies will occupy a Walmart store in North Jersey in solidarity with the workers.

But the event is in no way limited to the New York–New Jersey region, and other Occupy chapters are also planning actions. Nick Espinosa from Occupy Minnesota says protesters in Minneapolis are working with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), in addition to other community organizations and labor groups, to support local Walmart workers who are going out on strike.

“Occupy is serving as a hub to connect people to where workers are standing up and speaking out in ways that they can support them,” says Espinosa.

“Occupy serves as a hub for people from all walks of life to start a dialogue, and as we started a conversation with people, we found many people are obviously having similar problems at work, from layoffs to low wages, and in Walmart’s case, you don’t have to go far to make the connection between Walmart and Wall Street. They’re the world’s largest employer and they’re the quintessential 1 percent corporation,” Espinosa continues, citing Walmart’s penchant for subcontracting as a way to “absolve themselves for the abuses of their workers that goes on all along the supply chain, from the stores to their factories where the products are being packed. It goes from here to China.”

Upon visiting a Walmart store in Mexico, Espinosa says he saw youth who were bagging groceries there for no wages—only tips.

“They’re outsourcing abuse of workers all over the world and doing everything they can to create a smokescreen between their brand and the actual abuses that are allowing them to skim profits from working people to pad the CEO’s profits.”

While Espinosa doesn’t claim Occupy inspired the recent string of Walmart strikes and walkouts, he does credit the movement for raising awareness about the issues of class and labor abuses.

“Occupy was a shot across the bow to the 1 percent and corporate rule. When it comes to workers’ rights, I think it’s been a wake-up call to workers and some of the larger unions that if we don’t start fighting, we really have no hope for a better future. Right now, even with President Obama post-election, we’re looking at nothing but cuts and austerity, so I think people are taking a cue from Occupy and from movements all over the world. People are seeing what’s happening in Spain, in Greece, right now with the general strikes and seeing that as the real way forward to protecting workers’ rights and creating real opportunities that don’t involve balancing the budgets on the backs of working families and the most vulnerable in our society.”

the link: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171382/occupy-walmart-workers-plan-black-friday-protests#
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear