November 21 2012
Black Friday Walkout
Threatened strike pressures Walmart on multiple fronts, experts say
The strike planned by workers at hundreds of Walmart stores nationwide on America’s busiest shopping day has significance on many levels, according to Ken Margolies and Kate Bronfenbrenner of the ILR School.
"This unique, one-day strike by non-union workers with public support can have significant impact because even a small dip in sales on Black Friday has significant implications for Wal-Mart's stock," said Margolies, an associate of The Worker Institute at Cornell.
A strategy of direct pressure on large corporations to win improved pay and working conditions without a union contract has been successful for farmworkers, domestic workers and others, he said.
The strike planned for the first Friday after Thanksgiving, Bronfenbrenner said, is "going to be huge."
"This is global pressure for Walmart to start changing its practices toward workers worldwide."
Walmart store workers are not unionized, but the Friday plan is backed by organized labor.
"Unions are supporting any concerted activity at Walmart, regardless of whether the majority of the workers support the union at that workplace," said Bronfenbrenner, director of Labor Education Research at ILR.
"This may be the largest scale labor action ever … Walmart is stumped," she said.
"For the first time, Walmart is flummoxed … what are they going to do? Fire every single worker and shut down stores?"
In addition to possible disrupted services and supplies caused by strikers, shoppers rushing into Walmart for Black Friday deals might also be wading through prayer vigils and flash mob performances.
Social justice, religious and worker advocacy groups supporting strikers are planning hundreds of Friday actions in and around Walmart stories.
The threatened Black Friday strike is being organized by Organization United for Respect Walmart, with backing from the United Food and Commercial Workers, Jobs with Justice, and other labor, religious and community groups.
Comments by Margolies and Bronfenbrenner on the planned strike can be seen in the following articles:
The Nation, Walmart asks Judge to Block Historic Strikes
CNN Money, Walmart Workers Plan Black Friday Walkout