Walmart Workers Reveal Black Friday Protest Plans In 5 Major Cities [UPDATE]

Walmart Black Friday strikers

Frustrated Walmart associates say they are planning 1,000 "protest actions" for Black Friday in at least five major cities. Making Change at Walmart campaign, the union-backed association organizing the strikes, also said that the strikes will spread over the coming week, culminating on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.

Strikes have already begun at scattered Walmart stores, the first time there have been worker strikes in the company's 50-year history. It began with a day-long walkout in Southern California, but quickly rippled out to 28 Walmart stores in 12 different cities. Workers at contracted Walmart warehouses in Southern California went on strike yesterday, and this morning, 30 associates from six Walmart stores in Seattle walked out, according to Sarah Gilbert, one of the striking workers.

Organizers have been aggressively recruiting Walmart workers across the country to walk out the day after Thanksgiving, and so far associates in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Los Angeles, Milwaulkee, and D.C. will be taking part, Making Change's director Dan Schlademan says. There will also be work stoppages at Walmarts across Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Minnesota, he said.

More: Why Is It So Hard To Get An $8 Job At Walmart?

The Walmart associates are primarily striking over what they consider systematic intimidation at their stores. The country's largest employer is notoriously anti-union, and workers say that managers use a range of tactics to scare and punish employees who attempt to organize, speak out over unfair labor practices, or demand better wages or hours.

A former Walmart employee claimed to be a victim of this intimidation on Wednesday, when he visited his old Orlando, Fl. store to talk about the upcoming strike and was handcuffed. He told the Nation that Walmart managers purposely misled the police so that he was detained for 20 minutes in the store.

Associates involved in the campaign also accuse the world's largest retailer of paying sales employees poverty wages, and restricting their hours, forcing many to depend on food stamps and Medicare.

"It's a successful company that profits $16 billion a year, that can afford to pay its executives $10 million," says Gilbert, one of the striking Seattle workers, "while I can't afford to support my family on $16,000 a year."

[UPDATE November 16]: In a statement, Walmart called the protest plans "just another exaggerated publicity campaign aimed at generating headlines to mislead our customers and associates." The company added that its "confident" its customers will have a great experience on Black Friday, an event the chain has been planning for almost a year.

Walmart also said the tactics of the campaign were "unlawful" and "orchestrated" by the United Food & Commercial Workers.

Making Change at Walmart is backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers, which purports to represent 1.3 million workers in the U.S. and Canada.

Organizers wouldn't say how many of Walmart's 1.4 million U.S. employees are expected to take part on Black Friday, but they claim more workers are calling everyday, sharing their plans to strike. But the website for the Corporate Action Network, a networking tool for fighting corporate abuses, lists protests in 19 cities, including Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Houston, organized by Making Change at Walmart or its allies.

The protest actions will range from traditional striking, consumer education, and flash mobs, Schlademan said. "I think it's going to be a very creative day," he hinted.

No individual stores have been mentioned either, for fear of Walmart intimidating those workers, according to Schlademan. But event details for some of the protests are available once a person RSVPs online.

All associates who walk off the job will lose a day's wages, a particularly painful cost for the many Walmart employees living paycheck-to-paycheck. The average Walmart sales associate earns $8.83 an hour, according to If this associate works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, their annual salary would be $18,400.

"It's a major sacrifice to try to get our point across, and that's pretty much how serious we are," says Coby Harris, a Walmart associate in Dallas.

Other workers said there were real concerns that Walmart might retaliate against those who choose to strike, but that it was worth the risk. "It's the one chance we can get to just stand up and say something," said Charlene Fletcher, an associate at a Duarte, Calif., Walmart, before breaking down into quiet sobs, "and make a difference." (Charlene is pictured above with her husband and husband's brother.)

The organization says it has no illusions that a single day will fundamentally change Walmart policy. And Schlademan expects strikes and protests to persist long after this holiday season. "This is something that will continue this year and next year," he said, "until Walmart recognizes people's rights to free speech and free association."

AOL Jobs will be hosting a panel discussion on the upcoming Walmart strike. Tune in live Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 12.30 p.m. EST on our Google+ page, and ask questions and share your thoughts!

Panelists include Dan Schlademan, director of Making Change at Walmart; striking Walmart workers; business journalist Anthony Bianco; and Matt Patterson of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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Jose Arturo Ornelas

Things are tough all over. "Free association" does not mean you can coerce your boss into giving you whatever you want. Health benefits were created by manufacturing companies to draw good workers during a wage freeze. So its conditional, always has been.

November 23 2012 at 1:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The prices you pay at Wal-Mart are not because of the wages they pay there employees, Wal-Mart wouldn't need to raise prices even if they increased the salaries of every worker just look at their quarterly profits reported every 3 months, the biggest reason you are paying such low prices is because of how Wal-Mart works with there suppliers, I work for one of their suppliers myself and Wal-Mart has a set price to what they will pay for there merchandise, alot of businesses that work with Wal-Mart bearly make anything in return but because they purchase so much at a given time many companies wouldn't be in business today if it wasn't for Wal-Mart stores. What Wal-Mart pays its suppliers is far below what other retailers like Target stores pay for the samething, quantity when ordering is the only reason most suppliers cannot afford to reject business from Wal-Mart which is why prices are as low as they are. My employer, Proctor and Gamble would have to layoff if Wal-Mart decided not to buy from us, even know we make about 11,250.00 less on an order of 150,000 bottles of shampoo we sell them, when we sell the same quantity to Target based out of Minneapolis, MN the income from Target is far more than Wal-Mart because of how it contracts with its vendors like us.

November 19 2012 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tin Man

It's good that people are standing up to workplace abuses...but the unions are just looking to step in and get rich at the expense of the people they are supposed to represent. If there weren't any unions involved i'd be 100% behind the walmart workers, but sadly this smacks of organized labor. Pity the fools, look to Hostess to see how well that works in a competitve industry.

November 19 2012 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tin Man's comment

I believe Hostess is having second thoughts.....they kinda forgot who is paying their high salaries.....

November 20 2012 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good for them. This is still a free Country, and Walmart is trying very hard to decimate a large part of our small businesses. Not to mention underpaying their employees and limiting their hours, to the extent they still need food stamps, medicade and section 8 housing. And WHO do you think pays for that? WE DO. Corporate welfare at it's worst.

November 19 2012 at 6:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion Only

Look at hostess cakes company, they wanted to cut employees wages, the employees striked against it, the company decides to close, 18,000 out of job a revenge well done both ways..

November 19 2012 at 6:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
In My Opinion Only

These employees in alien green shirts will soon stop smiling, walmart will win the dispute.

November 19 2012 at 6:17 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I always shop at Walmart. I never knew what the employees were going through. No more Walmart for me.

November 19 2012 at 5:24 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Walmart is making billions bysqueezing there suppliers and paying low wages with less than desireable working conditions. The suppliers take bigger cuts to do business with Walmart because without Walmart they won't be able to stay in business because the other retailers can't compete with Walmart and many have dissapeared over the years. Over the years I've seen the investigative reports about Walmart and the way they do business. These days it's not hard to notice a news article about Walmart violateing labor laws and the latest recently was about their paying bribes in foriegn countries to break the law. To all of those who made negative comments about the workers, spend some time reading about the shady dealings Walmart has been involved in. If they weren't soo big they could never get away with it. These workers may not be rocket scientist with college degrees, neither am I, but they should get livable wages and decent working conditions. How many of these people make $8.83 an hour, 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year? I doubt that the majoriy get to work full time, therefore Walmart doesn't have to pay many benefits if any other than low wages. Keep up with what Walmart and you can see why the workers are unhappy. Maybe not all these workers are putting forth a good work ethic, but look at your corporate executives and ceo's, they get millions and they don't do much either........

November 19 2012 at 4:25 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

i dont understand, i shop walmart regularly, u cant beat they're prices,....the employees r not
the brightest in the world but at least they're working, or supposed to be, u sometimes find them
in a corner huddled together and u can hear them complaining......when u hav no education this is
what u u should teach ur children in grade school about life, if u goof off u get paid back
when ur adult, either working for Burger KIng or Walmart

November 19 2012 at 3:44 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to franky732's comment

And also because of economic conditions even those with education and a good work history can't find ****, I got myself a 4 year college degree and for what alot of employers are offering today is far less than what they normally would be offering if we had an economy like we did when Clinton was in office.

November 19 2012 at 1:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Education costs money dips$%t. They make education a F@$kin business. They talk about financial aid and all that other bs and then when your done with college you then have to compete with other people for a job plus you get that piece of paper in the mail with a certain amount of money you have to pay back to that specific college. So its not easy for people to get that education when you have no f@$kin money. Also look up the Walton's income. Look up how much money they make. With the money they make they can easily give these people a raise but thats what happens when your a greedy piece of filth those people dont get paid good. And they have to work on a day they should get off so that greedy American people can shop for more S$#t they dont even need and the Walton's can become more richer than they already are??? GTFO!!!!!

November 19 2012 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Looks like the Walmart corporation has hired itself some bloggers to degrade their workers. All these workers are asking for is full-time employment with a decent wage and benefits. I want one of these hired thug posters on here to tell us all why that they feel these people that WANT to work should be fired for standing up for themselves. If my local stores are part of the work stoppage, I will be honoring their picket lines. All people are due a decent living wage for an honest days work. When I go into my local Walmart stores I am always greeted by friendly faces and people that are willing to help. I watch the stock people at night busting their humps getting merchandise and food out onto the store floors. Without these people, Walmart wouldn't be where they are today.

November 19 2012 at 3:01 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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