Saturday, November 17, 2012

Walmart workers plan Black Friday 2012 walkouts

Walmart's Black Friday sale is one of the biggest in the nation, but will it be a flop this year? Workers at Walmart stores around the country are planning walkouts and strikes for the biggest retail shopping day of the year, in protest of long hours, low wages and rising healthcare costs at the world's largest retailer.

In fact, workers have already staged pre-Black Friday walkouts, with walkouts on Thursday and the promise of more in the week leading up to the Black Friday event.

Thursday's events were in Seattle. The strikes spread to Texas on Thursday.

Seattle Walmart worker Sara Gilbert struck on Thursday. Despite the fact she is a customer service manager -- a manager, note -- Gilbert only makes about $14,000 annually. Gilbert says her family remains reliant on food stamps and social services, despite the fact that "I work full time at the richest company in the world," as she said.

Walmart's Black Friday 2012 ad leaked more than a week ago. Black Friday actually begins, for Walmart, on Thanksgiving Day, at 8 p.m. local time.

That is another thing that has drawn fire, not just from Walmart workers, but from activists and even shoppers. The new Black Friday has encroached on Thanksgiving Day, meaning that retail employees have lost some or much of their Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Walmart has also decided to require workers to come in two hours earlier this year than last Thanksgiving.

This is about more than Black Friday, though, it's about the race to the bottom. We're sure that Walmart and retailers would love to be able to outsource their jobs to China, but it can't be done.

It's hard to see retailers changing their policies anytime soon, though. Black Friday sales have become so popular that people line up overnight for sales, and even trample each other in an attempt to get the best "doorbusters."

That race for bargains resulted in the death of 34-year-old Jdimytai Damour in 2008. He was trampled by -- wait for it -- Walmart shoppers on Black Friday, that year.

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