Walmart employees rally across US for living wage (VIDEO)
Employees and activists are calling on Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to improve wages and other practices, accusing it of “bullying” those who want better work conditions. It is the third year that such protests have taken place on Black Friday.
Workers took to the streets – on the busiest shopping day of the year – demanding a pay increase to $15 per hour and the opportunity to work full-time.
— Adbusters (@Adbusters) November 28, 2014
Some of the biggest demonstrations took place outside Walmart stores in Chicago and Washington, DC, as well as various cities throughout California, Texas, New Jersey, and Washington state. Though organizers had planned the union-backed protests for some 1,600 stores, it is not clear how many actually took place.
“We’re tired of being harassed and having our hours cut when we speak up about issues,” a Walmart employee protesting in New Jersey told RT’s Marina Portnaya.
— marina portnaya (@portnayanyc) November 28, 2014
Walmart claims it pays full-time employees an average of $12.94 an hour. Most, however, are restricted to working 28-hour work weeks and receive only $8.25 per hour.
“I’m tired of [Walmart] bullying everyone – and they do love to bully,” Nancy Reynolds, a 67-year-old part-time Walmart employee in Florida, told the Guardian.
— EB Fast Food Workers (@FairFastFood) November 28, 2014
Not all of the demonstrators at Friday’s protests were Walmart employees. Many were union members who stressed that low wages are a community issue not exclusive to Walmart.
"We will not rest until Walmart workers have a right to a union, a right to a living wage, and a right to decent working conditions and hours," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, said to a crowd in North Bergen, New Jersey, CNN Money reported.
While protests took place, several high profile politicians voiced their support for the cause. New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman and Speaker of New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito expressed their support.
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) November 28, 2014
— Melissa MarkViverito (@MMViverito) November 28, 2014
Walmart, which has over 4,000 stores in the US, employs 1.3 million workers across the country.
British comedian and activist Russell Brand weighed in and called on his supporters to stand up to the retail behemoth in a video posted on YouTube.
“These companies have become like giant astronomical bodies, intimidating us and crushing us. The only way we can confront them is through creative direct action and by ourselves taking a degree of personal responsibility,” he said.
Walmart strikers weren’t the only protesters taking to the streets this Friday. They were joined by demonstrators rallying against police brutality and racial profiling in the wake of a Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a white officer who fatally shot a black teen.