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Wal-Mart Workers Plan 'Black Friday' Strike



Wal-Mart workers said that when they complain about scheduling and other problems, management cuts their hours or fires people. For years, Wal-Mart has been targeted by unions and workers complaining about low wages, scant benefits, and retaliation against those who speak out.

America’s biggest retailer may be in for an unexpectedly painful holiday season. Protesting low wages, spiking health care premiums, and alleged retaliation from management, Wal-Mart Stores  workers have started to walk off the job this week, reports Bloomberg News. First, on Wednesday, about a dozen workers in Wal-Mart’s distribution warehouses in Southern California walked out, followed the next day by 30 more from six stores in the Seattle area.

The workers, who are part of a union-backed employee coalition called Making Change at Wal-Mart, say this is the beginning of a wave of protests and strikes leading up to next week’s Black Friday. A thousand store protests are planned in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., the group says.

In 2013, Wal-Mart plans to scale back its contributions to workers’ health-care premiums, which are expected to rise between 8 percent and 36 percent. Many employees will forgo coverage, Reuters reports.

Along with Target  and Sears, Wal-Mart has plans to open retail stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. Employees said they weren’t given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning.

With 1.4 million U.S. workers, the Bentonville (Ark.)-based company is the U.S.’s largest private employer. For years, Wal-Mart has been targeted by unions and workers complaining about low wages, scant benefits, and retaliation against those who speak out.

Until now, the company has crushed attempts by employees to organize. So it’s unusual that Making Change at Wal-Mart has been able to organize a number of strikes—the first in the company’s history, they say.

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