Shoppers lining up at Walmart for deals on Black Friday may
have to contend with more than the throngs of other bargain hunters. A group of
Walmart workers is planning to protest at stores on one of the busiest days of
the holiday season asking for higher wages and fair schedules.
This will be the third year of Black Friday demonstrations
in a row. Protests are planned at 1,600 Walmart locations -- the most ever --
according to organizers from the union-backed group OUR Walmart.
Since plans are still in the works, the group could not say
how many workers would actually show up. Protesters gathered at about 1,200
stores last year, according to the group, but Walmart says that number is
inflated. It's not only Walmart workers who will participate. Teachers and
other community members are also expected to join.
Workers want to be paid at least $15 an hour, they want to
be given more hours and to be given more consistent schedules. They're also
accusing the retailer of retaliating against workers who have protested against
the company before.
But the National Labor Relations Board, which protects the
rights of workers who organize for better wages, also alleges that Walmart unlawfully threatened or disciplined employees at more than a dozen
stores for legally protected strikes and protests. Nineteen workers were fired
for protesting and about 40 others were threatened or disciplined, according to
Walmart has said it acted within its rights under the law.
The latest hearing in that case was in June and no decision has been made yet. Walmart
worker protests tend to gain momentum around Black Friday, but protests occur
throughout the year.
On Thursday, workers staged a sit-in at a store near Los
Angeles. Twenty-six protesters were arrested for civil disobedience after
moving to a second store, the union group OUR Walmart said.
Demonstrators sat in store aisles holding signs asking
Walmart to "stop the illegal threats." One month ago, 42 workers
and other demonstrators were arrested in New York and D.C. for
protesting for higher wages. Some were arrested outside the upscale Park Avenue
home of Alice Walton, the billionaire daughter of Walmart's founder.
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