On Black Friday, not all people were headed to Walmart to shop as protesters gathered at the retail store chain nationwide in a rally to increase workers’ pay. The protests occurred at store locations in Ohio, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota to name a few. The protests were led and organized by Organization United for Respect (OUR), a union backed worker group. Supporters of the rally gathered to protest for store workers to have guaranteed full-time work and a minimum pay wage of $15. The protest was the biggest in the retail chains history, including more than 1,600 demonstrations in 49 states.
At current, the retail chain has over 1.3 million employees in the United States alone. On average, these workers make less than $25,000 a year. Many of the employees claim that they are barely making enough to support their families and keep a home. Many of the protesters and employees of the retail chain claim injustice when executives of the retail chain are making millions when they are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. The Waltons, who own 50% stock in store are multi billionaires and yet they can’t afford to pay their workers a decent wage or give us good benefits the protesters argue.
Out of all of the locations that the protests occurred, there were no acts of violence or aggression. The protests mainly consisted of picketers, those shouting their opinions, and individuals handing out fliers to customers as they passed. At the Evendale Walmart store location in Ohio, about 30 protesters gathered at the edge of the parking lot, marched through the lot, and entered store through the front doors chanting “Walmart, Walmart, you’re no good. Treat your workers like you should.” Police were called to the scene and asked the protesters to leave the store. The protesters left the store but remained just outside the front door, handing out fliers marketing other local businesses.
Erica Jones, a spokeswoman for Walmart assured the media that the business has an “open door policy” and is dedicated to doing all that they can to help in the growth and development of their employees. The crowds that have gathered to rally and protest against Walmart are not representative of the stores work force stated Jones. Brooke Buchanan, a spokeswoman for Walmart stated that the chain was not going to allow the protests to hinder their ability to serve their customers during this holiday weekend. Walmart is doing their best to ignore the protesters and focus on the safety of their customers while providing an exciting shopping experience, stated Buchanan.
2014 was the third consecutive year that protesters have gathered and rallied in protest at Walmart on Black Friday. Even with the protests, Walmart officials state that this Black Friday was one of the best ones as of yet. On Thanksgiving, this year alone, 22 million people visited the retail chain in the United States. Crowds flocked to Walmarts all over the nation, hoping to take advantage of their recent plan to lower its sales forecast and cut out all of the competition.
It has yet to be determined if the protesters who gathered to rally against Walmart will have any effect on whether or not employees will get a pay raise or offered full-time positions. With many customers speaking out in support of the protest, one thing is for sure, the protests have gained the attention of the media and the retail chain executives.
By Kelli Patterson
Photo courtesy of SocialJusticeSeeker812’s Flickr Page- Flickr License