Wal-Mart Employees Strike for Worker’s Rights
We reported last week that yet another lawsuit has been filed against the Wal-Mart Corporation because of the company’s sexist handling of salaries, raises, and promotions for female workers.
Wal-Mart workers made the news yet again last week in a record-breaking strike. For the first time in Wal-Mart’s 50-year history, retail workers in multiple store locations are organizing and striking against the company with a now infamous legacy of employee exploitation and discrimination. Employees from 28 Wal-Mart stores in 12 states participated in Tuesday’s strike.
Wal-Mart represents a huge part of the US economy— a full 2.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product—and data about Wal-Mart is used by policy makers at the Federal Reserve to understand US labor markets. American businesses and consumers clearly understand the sheer power of Wal-Mart’s place in the US economy—the media is already speculating about the potential side effects of Wal-Mart employees threatening to strike on capitalism’s biggest day of the year, Black Friday.
These strikes could be a game-changer for Wal-Mart workers and other low-wage employees who are exploited in the labor market. Wal-Mart employees have never been formally unionized despite decades of poverty wages and pay discrimination. Recent strikes have demonstrated a push towards unionization in the retail workplace.
In response to increasing strikes, Wal-Mart spokesperson Dan Fogleman has played down their potential impact, stating:
“There is nothing new, nor historic, about the fact that labor unions want to organize Walmart. Their rally was just the latest publicity stunt by [the United Food & Commercial Workers union] to seek media attention in order to further its political agenda and financial objectives.” 1
The rights of corporations should never trump the rights of workers to labor free from discrimination, unfair pay, harassment, poor working conditions, insufficient sick days, and poverty wages. With the holiday season approaching, these strikes have the ability to make an even larger statement about how consumerism dominates American society at the expense of the fair rights and dignity of retail workers and other low-wage employees.
Wal-Mart workers are still planning to strike on Black Friday if their demands are not met by the corporation.
Written by Brenna McCaffery