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A Walmart protester is arrested near Seattle. Go to the Change Walmart Tumblr for many more pictures.
As Walmart workers and community supporters protested Walmart in 15 cities across the country Thursday, 100 were arrested in 11 of those cities, according to organizers. Protests were held in or around Baton Rouge, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Arrests came in New York, Los Angeles, near Seattle and Washington, DC, San Francisco, Orlando, Sacramento, Chicago, and others.
The protests were held to combat not just Walmart's notoriously low wages (a subject the company lies about routinely) but the fact that, after a June strike by some workers, 20 were fired and more than 50 more were disciplined for what should have been legally protected concerted activity. The workers also announced (in an emailed statement) another major day of action on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving:
"We've had enough of Walmart’s inaction," said Tonya Cauley, a Walmart worker who was arrested Thursday in Hyattsville, Md. "As the country's largest employer, Walmart can and should do better. We aren't calling for much—a minimum full-time yearly wage of $25,000 and assure us that we can stand up for what's right without being attacked. I'm energized by the support I saw today and will be out stronger than ever on Black Friday."
Last year, Black Friday saw the largest ever mobilization against Walmart to that time. Workers have continued to organize and fight back since, though presumably the company's retaliation against activists will have had its intended effect and intimidated some workers away from protesting or walking out. Still, the fight against Walmart's low wages and heavy-handed tactics is growing—the company has never faced a year of protest like the past year, and now faces the prospect of another. And for all its denials that the protests are having an effect, the company's responses—including firing and disciplining all those strikers—show that it's paying attention.
Walmart isn't just bad for its workers, either. It's bad for the American economy in myriad ways, from dragging down wages for workers across the retail industry to killing jobs to paying such poverty wages that its workers are forced to rely on government assistance. So the community members who show up to rally and in some cases be arrested alongside workers have plenty of reasons to keep showing up themselves.