Indiana Nash, Staff Writer
With the weak economy that Americans have been hurting from for the past several years, jobs have become more and more difficult to come by and hold on to. In a situation such as this, it’s easy to see how an employer could take advantage of his/her workers. Now imagine this on an even bigger level: a national level in fact. Wal-Mart has over 2,000,000 employees across the United States and many of them are now speaking out against the store and its lack of concern for its employees.
On Black Friday, 1,000 Wal-Marts from all across the country experienced protests from several groups and many of their employees refusing to come to work. At one such Wal-Mart in New Jersey, workers occupied the parking lots of both Sam’s Club (which is owned by the same company as Wal-Mart) and Wal-Mart. They demanded better wages and proper treatment on the job. One worker, who was especially vocal on the issue, proclaimed that his managers at Wal-Mart forced him to complete a task that should have been “a three man job, in eight hours.” Other workers were protesting cut hours and benefits.
Besides employees, there were many other groups which joined the protesters. According to the Huntington Post, one such group was 99 Pickets, which organized an “Occupy Black Friday” gathering, obviously drawing their inspiration from the protesters in New York City last year. Their goal was to advertise, to not only employees, but citizens of all kinds the hardships that retail workers are facing today. Another group which came out to support the cause, The Retail Action Project, aims to support those who are trying to make a living in the retail business. They want to raise awareness of the fact that many employers are cutting slightly cutting workers hours so that they aren’t forced to provide benefits.
Democracynow.org suggests that in some areas of the country, the Wal-Mart employees were arrested for “blocking traffic,” while others were forced by security to leave the stores. When Wal-Mart was asked to respond to the protests they claimed that because there were so many other activist groups protesting, the majority of the group really wasn’t their employees. They also claimed that the incident was exaggerated; protests only occurred at 50 stores across the United States.
Many protesters held signs that proclaimed “Stand UP and Live Better!” However, many of the supporters themselves bought the Black Friday deals that the company advertised, so the slogan seemed a little ironic. The workers want to stand up for their rights and want change but, presently, they can only really afford to buy products from stores such as Wal-Mart. It’s almost as if the employees are paying their bosses just to get by. Doesn’t this seem a little too close to Carnegie’s system of the early 1900s? Carnegie only allowed his employees to buy products from stores which he owned. Obviously this type of monopoly was outlawed several years later. The question still remains though today: why hasn’t the blatantly unfair system which Wal-Mart runs been examined yet by law makers? Hopefully, with protests like those seen on Black Friday, deserved attention will be given to the issue and change will be seen.