Washington, D.C. – This Thanksgiving, as we appreciate good food, family, and friends, it is vital to remember that not all families have the same privilege. Black Friday has become the start of the holiday shopping season with huge sales and extended store hours. However, for low-income retail employees, this means quality time that should be spent with loved ones is replaced by mandatory shifts where workers are overworked, underpaid, and undervalued. Walmart, the largest employer in the nation, has a disgraceful history of oppressive workers’ rights practices. Instead of using their clout to model a just work environment, Walmart continues to deny their employees fair treatment, especially on Black Friday. This Black Friday, NOW stands with Walmart strikers demanding fair pay, reasonable schedules, and a just work environment.
The Walton family make $16 billion a year, more than the combined wealth of 43% of all Americans. In 2002 NOW named Walmart a “Merchant of Shame” for sex discrimination, wage abuse, exclusion of contraceptive coverage in insurance plans, violation of child labor laws, and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. More than a decade later, Walmart continues to discriminate. Not only does Walmart deny workers a living wage, they fire and punish workers for speaking out against unfair working conditions. Walmart continues to deny employees consistent and full-time schedules. They do not provide a working environment free from harassment and discrimination for female and LGBTQIA employees, nor do they offer paid sick days.
It doesn’t end there. Walmart blatantly exploits guestworkers, like Olivia Guzman, in its global supply chain. Working for Walmart’s U.S suppliers is a horror story of exploitation, sexual violence, and intimidation to conceal abuse. Seasonal guestworkers like Olivia depend entirely on the ability to return to the U.S. each year for their livelihood and are manipulated through threats of blacklisting – if workers speak out against abuse, they are eliminated from employment lists and prevented from receiving future jobs in the industry.
This Black Friday, and every day, NOW stands in solidarity with the Walmart Strikers. Walmart has an obligation to better its practices as the largest employer in the United States. NOW calls on the Walton family to respond the demands to pay workers $15/hour and provide consistent schedules.
If you are interested in attending a Walmart protest this Black Friday, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/ to see how you can get involved. You can also call Walmart’s home office to voice your opinions. Call 479-273-4000 and press “3” to tell Walmart they should treat their associates with respect. Finally, you can tweet with the hashtag #WalmartStrikers to let strikers know you support their fight.