At the end of last year, on Black Friday, Walmart workers bravely went out on strike. The workers and their supporters held protests at over 1,000 stores across the country, shortly following an initial set of strikes by workers in Walmart’s warehouses. The actions were broadly hailed as historic, given Walmart’s long-time practice of crushing the rights of workers at home and across the globe. Walmart, predictably, wasted no time denying the importance of the strikes and protests. On Black Friday, Walmart downplayed the strikes, falsely claiming that “…fewer than five workers walked off the job” and "less than fifty," in other sources.
The massive Walmart PR team continued with the spin to hide the truth of unrest bubbling from our neighborhoods. Even though the strikers had never called for a boycott, Walmart immediately released sales numbers in a nervous attempt to demonstrate that the workers hadn’t impacted its bottom line. In fact, it further added that despite the strikes and protests, the company had its best Black Friday ever. Interestingly, recently leaked emails from Walmart executives tell another story about Walmart’s holiday season and sales following Black Friday. In the leaked emails, one executive asks, “Where are all the customers?” A look at Walmart’s fourth quarter sales reveals “anemic growth” in the market of the United States.
As result of these sales numbers, Walmart’s tune suddenly changed. “We didn’t finish quite as strong as we would have liked, primarily due to a little slower holiday season than we would have planned,” Walmart’s CFO told the New York Times. Of course, Walmart was prepared to blame the downturn on payroll taxes, but its self-reported Black Friday numbers appear more dubious than ever.
The Black Friday Walmart strikes mattered a great deal, because Walmart is the corporate goliath in the room. Walmart represents everything about modern life that is sustainable only to the cause of siphoning resources out of our neighborhoods and into the pockets of the Directors of the company. These strikes are yet another sign that people have grown weary of the inequality that plagues us.
If the wealth of the Walton family were invested in the workers (or nationalized), every worker at Walmart could have a full health plan, education, sick days, and a living wage.
Remember WalMart during your MayDay planning, and remember Walmart when you need a glaring example of everything that is wrong with our modern economy.