November 21st, 2012
This Friday is now known as "Black Friday," the universally accepted term for when retailers cross over into the more profitable part of their selling year. This is all well and good and for many small retailers, we are happy to support them and wish them a healthy and fulfilling holiday selling season.
However - the increasingly desperate focus of the corporate owned media and their mountains of advertising dollars on getting all Americans to somehow get so frenzied over such teaser retail bonanzas as a $120 flat screen color TV, or a $50 Iphone that they are willing to trample each other to get their cheap deals first - well that part needs to come to a respectful end.
The sad and sour spectacle of economically stretched families pushing and shoving to save a few bucks in the holiday dash to replace kindness and giving with consumerism and shopping is bad enough. But now the retail giants, such as Walmart, Target and many others, have pushed the opening bell for these gladiator tinged shenanigans earlier and earlier out of "Black Friday" and now plan to roll out the come-ons as early as Thanksgiving Eve. That means family members who previously might have been able to have dinner with loved ones, then get to their job for even a ridiculous midnight Thursday opening bell - now are forced to sacrifice even those precious few hours of family togetherness so that these mega-retailers might generate an even greater feeding frenzy and a few more dollars of revenue per store.
As bad as this insult to the meaning of Thanksgiving might be, this disgust with the corporate trashing of the holiday is but one grievance in a long list of disrespectful and anti-worker, anti-human work rules imposed on these low-wage workers. And what do they get for following such rules? $7.50 an hour, if they are lucky, no health care plan, no pension, a constant stream of irregular hours and erratic schedules designed to keep them off-balance and part-time employees and a steady stream of disrespect and condescension if the worker is brave enough to ask why they are being treated like so much disposable garbage.
The conditions have reached such a low point that thousands of brave and thoughtful Walmart workers, in particular, organized in worker center groups - like "Our Walmart," are not even trying to form a union - knowing of how many roadblocks have been put in their way be tainted labor laws that have been twisted by the courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court's anti-class action decision last year against many thousands of women managers across the country who had brought a class action lawsuit against Walmart for gender discrimination. Yet these workers have already pulled of over thirty successful walk-outs from Walmart stores across the country. Walmart is so clueless as to even the basic meaning of the National Labor Relations law, that they have filed a complaint against the United Food and Chemical Workers Union - the UFCW, claiming that the union, though not organizing these workers, has somehow magically convinced all these folks to walk out in order to "frustrate Walmart's ability to carry on their regular business." Hah. Just as during the recent election, there is not a bit of understanding on the part of these greedy bosses that workers actually have the capacity to know when they are getting screwed and though it might take them a bit of time, they eventually will figure out a way to fight back - and a double bravo! for that!
This Thursday and Friday "Our Walmart" and several other worker center groups helping Walmart employees to educate and organize themselves into empowered workers, have called for a national day of boycotts, walk-outs and demonstrations to highlight not only the thoughtless and heartless push for opening stores on a major family holiday, but to also highlight the terribly lopsided working conditions at these stores and the huge income inequality between the pay of the average Walmart worker and the billions of dollars made by members of the Walton Family and their top brass each year.
Please support these workers, join a demonstration, picket with them in front of the store, but most of all - don't shop in any of those stores that don't respect that families have a right to peacefully enjoy a national holiday without being coerced into choosing between their sole source of income and seeing their children and parents sit down for the rare family meal all across the country.
UPDATE: Read OUR Walmart's actions "From The Front Lines" By Nation's Josh Eidelson:
Check out this article from the Retail Action Project:
And go to Sign.org to send a message of support for these workers and their right to organize to Walmart's Chairperson: http://signon.org/sign/rob%2Dwalton%2Drespect%2Dyour?source=mo&id=58098-18059543-99KUqyx