September 5th, 2013, Raleigh, NC - As Walmart workers petition managers to reinstate employees who have been unfairly treated, a flash mob breaks out.
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With Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up For Your Rights” blasting in the background, about 150 loud and raucous Wal-Mart workers and local union supporters marched down Market Street in downtown San Francisco on Thursday toward the Four Seasons hotel, where Wal-Mart board of director member and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer lives in a penthouse apartment. When they arrived, they held a dance party with a message: Raise the wages and improve conditions for some of the nations lowest paid workers. In addition to their own action, workers joined another earlier in the day at SF City Hall where immigrant-rights groups were rallying in support of aDue Process Ordinance to stop police collaboration with Immigration & Customs Enforcement. “I think that we’re all in the same boat,” former Wal-Mart worker Jeanette Pendleton told ITT.
In twelve weeks, on the busiest shopping day of the year, Walmart workers will mount what may be the biggest-ever US strike against the retail giant. In an e-mailed statement, a campaign closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers union promised “widespread, massive strikes and protests for Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. A Black Friday strike last year, in which organizers say over 400 workers walked off the job, was the largest and highest-profile action to date by the union-backed non-union workers’ group OUR Walmart, and the largest US strike in the company’s five-decade history.
Walmart workers and their supporters are launching protests in stores in 15 cities across the US today, as part of a small but vociferous movement to raise wages and improve conditions for some of the nation's lowest paid workers. The action follows strikes last week by fast food workers demanding a higher minimum wage and a civil disobedience action in Washington DCin August, where a coalition of Walmart workers and unions called for a minimum annual wage of $25,000 and the reinstatement of 20 employees they claim were illegally fired by the company after strikes in early June. OurWalmart, a union-backed members group, says it has filed more than 100 unfair labour practice charges against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board, including 20 illegal terminations and 80 disciplinary actions. The board said it was looking into "several cases".
Thousands of Walmart employees are planning to strike Thursday in cities across the United States, demanding better pay and to protest the firing of workers who previously demonstrated against the company, which, with 1.3 million workers, is the largest private employer in the country. The strike comes just one week after fast-food workers staged walk-outs at fast-food restaurants in 60 U.S. cities to call for hourly pay of $15 instead of minimum wage, signaling a trend of worker unrest at non-union companies. According to strike organizers, many Walmart workers earn the minimum wage, which varies from state to state but typically hovers near $7 to $8 per hour. Thursday's action is expected to be the largest strike since Black Friday of 2012 which spanned at least nine cities, organizers say.