Many of you have probably noticed that stores are opening earlier than ever for the craziest display of consumerism in America. Many praise this change as a solution to the aggression and injuries that plagues many stores’ workers and customers during the scramble for holiday deals. There is, however, a significant backlash against this decision made by many of the stores. With Walmart’s deals beginning at 6pm on Thanksgiving, many labor activists state that the “Black Friday” craze has gone too far.
While to many Walmart is known for its unbeatable deals, it is known to others for its poor working conditions and pay of employees. The superstore has maintained its low wages across the board by arguing that it is necessary to keep wages down if the consumers want the same lower prices. And while this seems like a reasonable argument, it is not the case.
Business Insider crunched the numbers for its article “Here’s How Much A Wal-Mart Pay Increase Would Cost Shoppers Per Trip” and found that the increase from federal minimum wage to a living wage of $12.50 per hour, would only raise total consumers costs about $12 per year or $0.46 per trip. This small change shows that the increase of wages is wholly possible, but until Walmart feels the push from within, they can and will continue to deny that the increase is necessary.
Walmart has been staunchly anti-union from its conception and continually busts any unions and organizing interests in their company. This year with the start of Black Friday deals on Thursday evening, many unions and workers have had enough. They say that pulling more workers away from they families on Thanksgiving highlights the disregard that Walmart management has for its employees. Calling for a change, the UAW has called on support from many other unions and labor oriented groups for support. While some workers have already organized strikes at their stores, a superpower like Walmart will need to see a nation push for unionizing and change in order to feel the pressure necessary to cause a change.
By organizing picket lines and protests all across the country, the main goal was to educate shoppers about the struggles of the workers who serve them and to reach out to workers about the possibilities that unionizing could bring to them. Because Black Friday brings out many more consumers and workers, the message has the chance to really make an impact. If Walmart begins to feel the pressure from these protests, change may be closer than expected. For now, we can only hope that this Black Friday shoppers left with more than carts full of low-priced goods and workers left with new feelings of determination to change their workplace.