After a century of strikes, work stoppages, and hard-fought negotiations to win the weekend and minimum wage, it might seem like the labor movement no longer has any aces up its sleeve. But organizers may have found one: Striking on Black Friday, the country’s busiest shopping day, which is exactly what Wal-Mart workers nationwide are planning to do.
Organized by OUR Wal-Mart, a national organization of Wal-Mart employees seeking better working conditions, the strike threat builds on this week’s activism, in which 88 workers have walked out at 28 stores in 12 states. Organizers say that at a minimum, workers want Wal-Mart to end what they call retaliatory firings of activist workers.
Wal-Mart denies any retaliatory firings, but has made no attempt to stop bashing OUR Walmart at mandatory employee meetings. So far, striking workers account for only one in every 10,000 of Walmart’s 1.4 million U.S. employees. But the strike threat, supported by the National Consumer League, National Organization of Women, and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, could land a symbolic blow by raising public visibility to labor grievances on a day traditionally reserved for an orgy of commercial consumption.