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November 22, 2012

Thankful for the Walmart Strikers This Holiday

Posted in: Right to Dissent

Walmart strikers at a store location on October 4 (Photo by Neon Tommy)

There’s a despicable creep that the owners of Big Box stores and other businesses have brought about in this nation. The creep has been aided and abetted by the American people themselves. A product of capitalism, the creep has turned Thanksgiving into a holiday where some workers in this country cannot spend the entire day with their families today because they have to report to work for Black Friday shopping hours today.

Walmart will be opening its stores at 8 pm. Workers at various store locations in the country, as Josh Eidelson has reported, are planning strikes to protest hours on Thanksgiving (in addition to workplace conditions).

Workers like Victoria Martinez, a 29 year-old, are taking a stand against Walmart’s decision to “deprive workers of the freedom to spend the holiday with their families.” The store used to ask if workers wanted to work overnight “for the Thanksgiving rush,” but “now they just schedule” workers “however they want.” Workers have to show up or they will be fired.

An ex-Walmart worker told a local news station in Albuquerque it is “really just un-American,” and, “If they really were for the American family, would they have their workers show up and work these hours and give up time with family?”

It is not just Walmart that is heartlessly having their employees report for work on the holiday. Gap Inc. will have 1,100 stores open on Thanksgiving, like they have for the past three years, and Target, the “second-largest American big-box retailer” behind Walmart, will open at 9 pm—the first time the chain will be open on Thanksgiving. And, Toys ‘R Us, Kmart and Sears will open at 8 pm.

On top of that, this obscene development has a name: PR-meisters are calling it “Gray Thursday.” Which, if catches, indicates this could become a permanent fixture in the calendar of this society.

Americans are collectively responsible for this. Too many families are sucked into the advertisements and announcements by news stations, which masquerade as news stories but are really reports on deals for gizmos and gadgets people should rush to buy.

The high-level managers and executives do not have to leave their families or interrupt their family dinner to go work. They have lower-level associates that can handle operations.

This year, strikes at Walmart are shining a spotlight on a problem with the US economy. Americans work more than anyone in the world. That does not mean they work in good conditions or make a living wage.

As Susan Brooks wrote:

…[T]he poster child for this kind of treadmill labor is Wal-Mart with part-time labor being common, hours subject to change, little or no benefits, and no real hope for significant advancement. The average Wal-Mart employee works just at or slightly above the poverty level. An internal Wal-Mart document, titled “Field Non-Exempt Associate Pay Plan fiscal year 2013,” “details a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.”…

But, that is not all that is morally repugnant about this Thanksgiving holiday. Extra shopping hours on Thanksgiving means more hours for Americans to go shop and accrue debt. Like Brooks also wrote, “It’s the other treadmill of buy, buy, buy at sales. But in reality, most people are now having to buy on credit, and the depressed American wages over time have been somewhat hidden by buying on credit.”

Some of the workers would also prefer to work on Thanksgiving because they can make a holiday wage that is higher than their regular wage and they need the hours. They are not given good hours or benefits at work so they volunteer to cut their holiday short. How crude is that?

This creep is an indicator of the decline of civilization in this country. People who want, want, want, want spend November anticipating what they will buy on Black Friday. That primal drive is in recent years having an obvious impact on the lives of families. That is why this holiday I am thankful for the Walmart striker.

People in low-level positions at Walmart don’t work at Walmart because they want to work at Walmart. They work at Walmart because society gives them no other option but to be a wage slave.

It may not look like much when the day is over. One might say there were only a few thousand out of a country of millions, who demonstrated, so what does it matter? Fact is they are taking a stand with great risk of retaliation and/or losing their job.

They put up with being a wage slave over three-hundred and sixty days of the year. There should at least be one day where they do not have to clock in to schlepp around a store floor for some corporation. On top of that, they should be able to have more dignity and respect in the workplace, and these Big Box stores Americans flock to for cheaper gizmo and gadgets around the holidays should give their workers better conditions.

Strikes at Walmart around this time of the year are what this country needs to wake the greedy bastards, numbskull consumers, self-righteous fools, and recumbent assholes, who are year by year sapping what decency this society has around the holidays by flooding stores with their bodies to engage in ruthless tug-of-war matches over goods they think they have to have now because they saw a low-price deal in a glossy color ad. They do not realize what they are doing so that means either the victims disrupt the cycle and shake us out of our market-induced coma or the creep continues.

So, this holiday, if you have any decency, after you enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner, you should consider going to a Walmart later in the night, but when you get there, do not go shopping for the 1%. Instead, thank a Walmart striker for dissenting in the midst of this madness and show your appreciation by standing for an hour outside a store in solidarity with the 99%.


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