Consumers may be lining up for Black Friday deals at a major retailer this holiday season, but there may not be enough employees there to ring them up. Our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers have learned that Wal-Mart workers plan to protest at stores across the country on the busiest shopping day of the year in order to bring attention to the low wages, bad working conditions, and other poor labor practices that they are suffering.
Wal-Mart workers are planning to stage a walkout on Black Friday, the day when shopping fever is likely to be at its highest. It’s when retailers acquire a large chunk of profit. The workers are going to speak out against the discrepancy between the huge profits that the largest retailer in the world takes in, and the poor conditions and low wages that its employees are forced to endure. Some workers claim that their homes are in foreclosure because the salary they earn is not enough to make ends meet.
In recent months there have been many walkouts at Wal-Mart warehouses and stores. All of these protests resulted from extremely low wages and questionable working conditions. Some employees argue that Wal-Mart only hires part-time staff to avoid paying its workers benefits. Wal-Mart is not part of a labor union.
There are over 4,000 Wa-Mart stores across the United States, and the labor protests have garnered attention to the advantages of online organizing. Many employees are scattered across suburban and rural areas. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr have all been credited for bringing together people and garnering support. The campaign also has a website, Making Change at Wal-Mart, that contains workers’ testimonies.
But the protests have also led to some negative consequences. In order to compensate for the planned Black Friday protest, many of Wal-Mart’s employees will be working throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. So there will virtually be no Thanksgiving celebrations for thousands of workers.
Wal-mart is already facing an overtime lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the company broke the overtime and minimum wage laws of several hundred Wal-Mart workers in the Chicago area by making them work extra hours and miss lunches.
If the past is any indication of how this pending lawsuit will turn out, the workers may receive considerable settlements. Back in 2008, Wal-Mart agreed to pay about $640 million to settle state and federal minimum wage class action lawsuits.
The first Wal-mart strike happened in Los Angeles, California, in October 2012. After that, there were strikes in Dallas, Southern California, and Illinois.
At the Illinois Wal-Mart strike, workers complained of doing hard labor for very little pay, temperatures that were either unbearably cold or hot, and discrimination based on gender types. Workers demanded safety requirements such as shin guards for protecting against heavy carts, and massive ceiling fans for cooling the warehouse where temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees.
Arrests were made, and management was forced to shut down the warehouse
for a day. The corporation lost approximately $8 million that day, because
a majority of the imported products that it sells come through the Illinois
warehouse. The massive financial impact caused by the shutdown is believed
to be a major factor that contributed to the success of this strike.
The Wal-Mart strikes highlight the plight of workers in big business establishments. They also prove that peaceful protests may bring about desired results. Unfortunately, the timing of the latest planned protest may bring hardship to workers and consumers alike.
Minimum wage lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understand that workers should not have to resort to protests to protect their rights. Federal and state law requires employers to provide adequate pay and working conditions to employees. When these rights are violated, an overtime lawsuit can help disadvantaged workers earn back the compensation that they are entitled to.