Wal-Mart strikers in Laurel, Maryland
Wal-Mart workers across the nation are on strike for better wages and working conditions as well as an end worker intimidation and retaliation. Josh Eidelson at The Nation
is live-blogging it
2:35 PM [ET]: According to a spokesperson for Making Change at Walmart, a group tied to the United Food & Commerical Workers union, hundreds of Walmart retail workers have now gone on strike. He added that there are Black Friday strikers in at least 100 cities and protests in 46 states. The spokesperson accused Walmart of making up numbers to minimize the strike, and said that it will take time to tally more exact figures because many strikers are walking off the job on their own in stores that haven't seen past OUR Walmart actions. He reiterated the group's position that the strike is legally protected, and pledged support for any workers who face illegal retaliation for participating.
12:30 PM: HANOVER and SEVERN, MD—400-some activists, union members, and striking Walmart workers marched down streets and through a shopping center parking lot this morning before being met by a Walmart manager, and police, across from Hanover, Maryland’s Capital Plaza Walmart at 10 AM this morning. Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta and local Reverend Edwin L. Jones Jr. asked the manager to commit not to punish the workers striking today; they say he replied that Walmart won’t retaliate, said it never does, and denied that national Vice President David Tovar’s comments that “there could be consequences” constituted a threat. Chants included “Whose Walmart? Our Walmart!,” “Hey hey, ho ho, slave wages have got to go,” and “Stand up! Live better!” [...]
The Capital Plaza Walmart is the closest of six stores in the Washington, DC suburbs; labor and progressives have so far been successful at keeping the store out of the city itself. Organizers said that 100 workers at those six stores have struck at least once this week; they said at least a dozen are on strike today, but some workers involved in unloading goods decided to participate in Monday's strike instead to have more of an impact.
Strike poster from Warwick, Rhode Island
Jordan Weissman at The Atlantic
As Harold Meyerson noted recently in The American Prospect, whereas Ford and General Motors paid their factory workers enough to buy the cars they built, Wal-Mart rose up by paying "its workers so little they had to shop at discount stores like Wal-Mart."
But by now, that low-price, low-wage model has become the industry standard among discount retailers, or at least close to it. The median retail worker earns $14.42 an hour, but at big box chains, the pay is significantly lower (the notable exception being Costco, which commendably pays its employees a living wage). Walmart, for instance, says it pays full time sales associates $11.75 an hour on average. But independent analysis peg the figure much lower, closer to $9. According to IBISWorld, that puts it a bit behind companies like Home Depot and Lowes, but ahead of its nearest competitor, Target, which has managed to put a more fashionable face on the same abysmal pay for its workers.
To put these figures in perspective, the federal poverty line for a family of three is $19,090.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
That means that on average a full-time associate would have to work 42 hours a week, 52 weeks a year to rise above the poverty line.
You can follow some of the goings-on on Twitter at #Walmartstriker.