Interfaith Worker Justice

This is what religion looks like.

Search
Why I'll be at Walmart on Black Friday

Why I'll be at Walmart on Black Friday

2 Comment(s) | Posted | by Kim Bobo |

Most Black Fridays, I avoid retail stores like the plague. I prefer to enjoy the day with family and friends. This year, I’m venturing out – not in search of that “good deal,” but in support of justice for Walmart workers.

JubileeBlack Friday, the highest profit day of the year for many retailers, is a day that helps stores get “in the black.” Black Friday kicks off the holiday season that makes or breaks companies.

We Americans love our deals. I do my share of bargain shopping and coupon clipping. But we also want workers to be paid fairly and treated decently. Companies can make large profits, but we expect them to share their prosperity with workers.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer. As the nation’s largest private employer with 1.4 million workers, Walmart is the largest employer of women, African Americans and Latinos. Because of its size, Walmart sets the standard for retail work in the nation. Walmart’s standard is bargain basement. In our faith communities, we believe that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”  We expect more from Walmart.

Walmart pays low wages ($8.81 starting rate). They also schedule workers who want and need full time work and benefits part time hours. Thousands of workers can’t work the hours they need to support their families, and they aren’t eligible for company-provided (although expensive) health care benefits. Walmart claims to serve low-income people by setting cheap prices, but it often pushes workers to poverty with its erratic, insufficient scheduling and low wages.

Walmart workers have formed an organization call OUR Walmart pushing the company to be better. The OUR Walmart leaders I’ve met enjoy working in retail and want Walmart to prosper, but also they want to share in the prosperity. They want better wages, full-time hours and family affordable benefits. They want to be treated with respect and dignity. They want to know that those who work in Walmart’s warehouses, and produce products for Walmart are also treated fairly.

This Black Friday, people of faith around the country are standing with Walmart workers. Some of us will be offering prayers outside the stores. Some of us will be talking with managers inside the stores.  Others will be organizing flash mobs inside and outside the stores.

Click here to learn more about actions at Walmart stores across the country. 

We won’t stop anyone from shopping, but we do want to get Walmart’s attention. And based on Walmart’s filing charges at the National Labor Relations Board attempting to stop the actions, it appears that we’ve already gotten Walmart’s attention.

Walmart could be a more successful company and raise the standards in the retail industry if it embraces workers and pay middle-class wages and benefits, create and implement ethical sourcing and community benefit policies.

So this Black Friday, I’ll be outside Walmart. Perhaps next year, I can be inside shopping.

Comments

We welcome your comments on the IWJ blog and encourage open discussion about important issues around worker justice and the unemployed. Disagreements are fine, but mutual respect is a must. Profanity, slander or abusive language will not be permitted. IWJ reserves the right to delete comments that violate this spirit of respect.

  1. Hope Sanford's avatar
    Hope Sanford
    | Permalink
    Thanks- we in Houston will be united outside one particular Walmart to educate people about WHY they should boycott WalMart Black Friday and EVERY day until workers are treated fairly. When workers are stressed, overworked, underpaid & uninsured, families begin to unravel, children don't thrive and society becomes dysfunctional.
  2. Jim Cusack's avatar
    Jim Cusack
    | Permalink
    I am old enough to remember Sam Waltons family style of operating in a fair minded way. The policy was to locate stores in small towns, then offer goods and services at the best prices , while creating jobs for those in the area. I have Hope that the idea of providing a place of employment where the Workers are given full employment and a living wage&treated with dignity and respected for the work they do.
    Waltons are successfully living the American Dream. Now GREED
    HAS TAKEN OVER. We see a company made sucess full by the People -treat us As you expect to be treated. Be an example, a
    Good one. Sam was.
    I stand with Justice in the workplace!
    I will not shop at wallmart as long as workers are not given a fair shake
    SOLIDARITY JIM C

Leave a Comment