OKLAHOMA CITY – Walmart workers across the country are threatening to strike on what the company calls “the Super Bowl for retailers” or Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Walmart management said they believe only a very small fraction of their 1.3 million workers will actually strike on Friday because they said their pay and benefits compare very well against competitors.
Still, some shoppers told us a strike would make them spend Black Friday money somewhere else.
At a Maryland Walmart, union organizers, Walmart workers and others recently marched outside, calling for a Black Friday strike.
“I’m just tired of it,” employee Michael Wilkins said. “I have a family I have to take care of and I got bills I have to pay.”
Barbara Andridge is one employee in California who will not be helping the throng of shoppers.
“Pay is an issue for some of us,” she said. “A lot of us are tired of living in poverty. A lot of us are on food stamps.”
Their complaints resonate with Oklahoma Walmart customers, many of whom said they will not shop at Walmart if they see picket lines on Black Friday outside Walmart stores.
“I’d probably go to Homeland or somewhere,” shopper Arga Luker said.
“I might respect their picket line,” Sherri Hayes said. “Especially like on Black Friday with people having to go to work at 4 a.m. in the morning. It’s just crazy.”
On Friday, Walmart filed a complaint against the United Food and Commercial Workers union for violating labor laws by picketing, trespassing and intimidating customers and employees.
As for the claim that Walmart retaliates against those who speak out for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care, V.P. of Communications for Walmart U.S., David Tovar, said, “The fact is that this is a very small contingent of associates, propped up by the unions to make these kind of claims.”
He said, “Twenty percent of the people we hired this year are rehires, meaning they worked for the company. They left and they came back because they realized they weren’t getting a better deal somewhere else.”
For many shoppers, a better deal would make them walk past any picket lines.
“I would walk right on by them and shop because it would be something I gotta go in there, I’m trying to get,” Sandra Bolfrey said.
“I’m still gonna shop at Walmart, no matter what,” Amy Nall said. “It’s too convenient for me.”
Kory Lundberg, Walmart Director of National Media Relations, said in a statement Tuesday, “We do not expect these actions by a very small minority of our associates (less than .0003 percent) at a handful of stores to have any impact on our stores or our customers shopping experience on Black Friday.”
Several metro Walmarts plan to be open all day, not just on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving as well.