Workers’ Group Plans “Black Friday” Protests Against Walmart

“Black Friday” is starting earlier than ever this year, with big-box stores like Walmart and Target starting holiday sales well before the usual crack-of-dawn the day after Thanksgiving. Walmart’s sales will begin in most states Thanksgiving evening at 8 p.m, and Target will open at 9 p.m. That’s upsetting some store employees who may have to work the holiday. 

Organizers with the workers group “Our Walmart,” a union-like association that organizes Walmart employees nationwide, says nearly 1,000 protest actions at Walmart stores in the US are planned for next Friday. The group’s supporters are pushing for better pay, more consistent working hours, and stronger health coverage.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux, a liberal author and economist who supports the group says retail stores’ deciding to hold sales on Thanksgiving disrupts the holiday.

“This ought to be a day when people have the opportunity to spend the time with their families. What we’re hearing is that, ‘well, the consumer wants it,’ but the consumers don’t want it. This is something that’s being imposed, and with consumer hysteria, people will of course show up if you offer crazy deals and bargains.”

However in Massachusetts, Blue Laws prevent stores from opening on Thanksgiving, so “Black Friday” sales won’t begin until after midnight. Jon Weissman, coordinator of Western Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, says though there isn’t a local branch of “Our Walmart,” his organization plans to stage Black Friday protests at Walmarts around the region in solidarity with the group.

“There could be leafletting customers or we’ll have stickers we’ll ask them to wear. We’re going to go singing carols, Christmas carols, with the language adapted to Walmart’s infamy.”

UPDATE: Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg dismissed the protest plans, saying, in a statement: “This is just another exaggerated publicity campaign aimed at generating headlines to mislead our customers and associates.” He says the actions taken by United Food & Commercial Workers, which is affiliated with “Our Walmart,” are “unlawful.”