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Posted on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

A Black Friday strike? It could happen, and it's legal

By Ben Freed

As retail stores continue to move Black Friday hours earlier, there have been some rumblings of dissatisfaction from employees at the country’s major chains over the increased hours and lack of holiday time.

Walmart and Target have been at the center of the controversy. Petitions asking retailers to change their minds about opening on Thanksgiving Day have garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures on and there have even been some low-level walkouts at Walmart stores around the country.


Shoppers were at Target early for Black Friday door busters last year. This year, some employees are objecting to plans to open on Thanksgiving Day.

Melanie Maxwell |

Roland Zullo , a labor expert at the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy, said that Walmart has a long history of being hard on workers and heavy-handed in ensuring that their stores remain union free. However, from what he’s heard, the current strike threats and walkouts have less to do with organization than with protesting specific pay and working condition issues.

“This is an important protest, it really is important for our times,” he said.

“This is a group of workers who are not saying they want a union, they’re just protesting their treatment in the workplace, which they have a perfectly legitimate right to do.”

Groups such as OURWalmart and the Corporate Action Network have been attempting to convince workers in as many stores as possible to take some form of action on Friday.

The CAN website lists Black Friday “events” scheduled across the country. There is an “Occupy Black Friday” protest scheduled outside a Walmart in Kalamazoo that has a leader and is listed as the top event on the website.

A spokesman for the United Food and Commerce Workers union, a union that has a particularly bitter history with the retail giant, said that while the union has helped Walmart organizers in an advisory capacity, there has been no monetary support and no effort to unionize workers as part of these demonstrations.

A Walmart franchise in Quebec was shut down in 2005 after workers at the store decided to join with the UFCW.

“The UFCW has had a longstanding interest in trying to organize Walmart,” Zullo said.

“The reason is that when Walmart stores come into an area they often undercut wages and negotiated conditions that unions have achieved in other retail areas. They represent the bottom of the labor market and labor wants to pull that up.”

Walmart has taken the first legal action in the dispute over holiday hours. The company filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday alleging unlawful attempts to disrupt business by the UFCW.

According to a report in the Christian Science Monitor, union officials were unimpressed with the claim and expected the NLRB to dismiss the suit. inquiries left for the corporate offices of Walmart and Target were not returned.

Zullo said that future legal challenges could come if any Walmart employees are fired for protesting or striking on Black Friday.

“What many workers don’t know is that you do not have to be in a union to engage in what is referred to as ‘protected concerted activity,’” he said.

“Private sector labor law in this country protects certain concerted activity, meaning you can’t be fired for engaging in it.”

Zullo said protected activities including walking out or striking to protest unfair working conditions.

“If a group of workers tried to trash the store in protest, that would be unprotected,” he said. “But to my knowledge, there’s been no violence involved and it seems like they might just not show up, or be in front with signs.”

Workers protesting or not showing up “together” could also be a crucial part of future legal action.

“The key is it has to be collective,” Zullo said.

“The law protects concerted activity. So if one person does it, they’re likely on their own. If a group does it, it really forces Walmart’s hand. If Walmart then goes after those workers it could be bad for the store from a legal, monetary, and reputation standpoint.”

Walmart has been adamant publicly that the number of employees who may take action is miniscule compared to the wide scope of the company. Zullo said he couldn’t put a number on how many it would take to form a critical mass of protest that would affect the store, but workers are maximizing their leverage by using Black Friday.

“This is the biggest shopping day of the season. If a group of workers did do this, they certainly would have chosen the right day for impact,” he said.

“I think the larger issue for Walmart is one of reputation. The bigger the story gets, the more likely it is that people will decide to shop elsewhere ... . The larger effects would come down the line.”

Ben Freed covers business for You can sign up here to receive Business Review updates every week. Reach out to Ben at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2



Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Consumer organizations point out that "sales" actually refer ONLY to heavily advertized "loss leaders" - while most of the sales items are priced either at normal levels or at inflated prices to compensate for the "loss." So, logically, what does that tell you? Answer: It tells us that once we "bite" on that special once-in-a-lifetime item, we're going to be thinking about making the most of our trip, our waiting in line, etc. - and will very likely buy some of those conveniently placed normally priced or over-priced items. No adult believes that a retail company is actually going to sacrifice ANY profit for our benefit. The premise behind "black Thursday" or any sale programmed by the seller to bring people out at unusual times is amazing in its audacity. Purposely putting consumers in a rushed environment where every minute counts toward an imagined bargain you have to COMPETE with others for __is pretty "darned" silly. It's all set up beforehand, with the company ensuring it has a supply of mass-purchased items that can be "discounted" and then "announcing" special sales to convince consumers they've discovered the deal of the year. That companies like Walmart go so far as to arm-twist their employees into participating in this scheme is proof of how concerned they are with profit versus "holiday spirit." Is this right or wrong - that's the only question that we need to answer.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 4:03 a.m.

If you read all the stories about these corporate inspired "holiday sales" (sounds innocent, eh) you'll soon find a common thread relating to customer frustration, anger and sometimes arrogance runs through all of them. So, just asking, wouldn't this corporate inspired conflict work a little better if chains like Walmart, Miejers, Kroger, etc - all start making an effort to help customers get through those sales days with less hectic greed pushing and more shopper education? Just being in a checkout line can be an education in negative human dynamics. On one hand you have people who've probably gone to extra lengths just to be there for the sales and on the other hand there are the cashiers who are expected to multitask for hours with absolute 100% precision while serving the interests of all those customers coming through in larger than normal volume. A single "miss" in getting correct ID when selling alcoholic beverages results in an automatic $1500 fine and 2-week suspension, a second or 3rd "miss" results in even heavier fines , possible jail time and loss of a job. (it varies by state and even by store in some cases). Sounds like these holiday sales ("black fridays, etc) are a "set up" for difficult conditions for both customers and those trying hard to serve them (without error, with a smile on their faces). Maybe the geniuses who thought up those kinds of sales should be getting time off and a pay cut. Just maybe, the highly paid geniuses running Walmart and all the major retail chains ought to be giving more thought to what our holidays are meant to signify: times of ease, times of lower anxiety, times of togetherness, even times of patriotism and religious adherence. Good luck to all the United Food and Commercial Workers members: you probably earn more than you're being paid and sometimes have to work even when everyone else is enjoying real holidays.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

They are already lining up in front of Best Buy. Good luck with those protests.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

Walmart reminds me of the slave labor sweatshops of the 1800. A favorite sign in the sweatshops read: "If you don't come in on Sunday, don't come in on Monday." Gotta love selfish disregard for the basic human rights of others. MY money! MY MONEY!!!! You sweat, I'll do the groaning! Now get back to work! Bah! Humbug!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

It shouldn't be a national holiday because its main purpose is the promote a religion.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

The religion of greed and selfishness.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

I NEVER shop at Walmart. I do not patronize businesses who exploit their workers, pay them slave wages, and expect unpaid over-time.

music to my ear

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 9:23 p.m.

un paid overtime bull dinkie that is out and out wrong people need to stand up to wally-world I would not put up with that ......but they have a lot of workers there who put up with that because they need that job .I am fortunate to have the choices or this time of year thankful.every one shops there because it is cheap and the only grocery store around here other than buschs I miss country Market.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

I have made many New Years Resolutions in my life. I've only kept one... beyond one year. On January 1, 2010, I promised myself I would never set foot in a WalMart... ever again. Its working. I am buying a big TV soon from a "locally owned" store, even though WalMart sells it for $40 less. I CAN see five feet past my billfold. I will not contribute to the high cost of a low price. Black Friday should have some interesting reading in regards to this.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

What? Workers have the right to walk out/strike. Is our education system really that poor that generally people wouldn't know they have the right to strike or form a union at work? I think the Black Friday shoppers are more to blame here. Stay home, get some sleep, eat some turkey. The general good deals will always be there. Don't be suckered into this stuff 6am, 5am, 4am no midnight.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:14 p.m.

What happen to the old days, when everything locked their doors Wednesday at 8:00p.m. and did not open until 6:00a.m. Thursday? What happen too family time? :) :)


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.



Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

Another decade and all the retail trade in the country will be liquor stores, groceries and coffee shops. Everything else will be online, with mammoth servers dedicated to two tasks: Ordering fresh product from overseas, and feeding orders to whatever delivery service emerges alive. The only human beings still employed by Macy's, et al, will be one 17-year old call center answerer in Sri Lanka and 22,175 MBAs averaging $179,352 annually, inflation-adjusted. Don't ask who the customers will be.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

I wish I could feel bad for them but I worked years at a hospital working Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other holiday it seemed. I also served in the national guard and many times while training or deployed I and didn't even get to come home after the work day. If these people don't like working at night during a holiday then quit and work somewhere else. It's not like Walmart pays that much with benefits anyway. There are plenty of low paying jobs with no benefits that don't have people work on the holidays.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:16 p.m.

Tim I said almost most if not all that you mention are on par with Wal - mart or little better. The rich getting richer at the expense of the common hard worker.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

Most Restaurants, Subway, Starbucks, Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, Best Buy, Kroger, ect.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Where would YOU suggest? Wal - mart is about as low as you can get.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

If too few shoppers go out to shop on Thursday night, the stores will stop opening on Thursday night next year. It's that simple. No protests are required. The NLRB lawyers do not need to get involved. I believe that we refer to this as "voting with your feet."

rusty shackelford

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

If capitalists treated their workers like human beings, unions would be totally unnecessary.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

rusty, you're right. however, they(the capitalists) don't, so they(the unions) are necessary. I am not saying that unions are perfect, far from it! I have seen many union stewards who were so busy sucking up to management that they were useless to the very people whom they were supposed to represent, but now and again you run across one who truly has the workers best interests at heart and isn't afraid to be a pain in the you-know-what to management to do this, and it is those particular stewards who, to quote some song lyrics, embody the real meaning of "solidarity forever!"

Tim Hornton

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

Agreed but many capitalists do treat workers good. I can't speak for Walmart but I did work for Kmart and that was the worst place in the world to work for. I eventually quit, went to school, and got a pretty good job working for a great capitalist... with a union. I agree Unions keep them greedy companies off your back a little and help get you better wages.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

In 1955, retail analyst Victor Lebow wrote: "Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies. "These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency. We require not only "forced draft" consumption, but "expensive" consumption as well. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. The home power tools and the whole "do-it-yourself" movement are excellent examples of "expensive" consumption." Black Friday exemplifies this.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

Wal -mart means working hard for next to nothing and you better be happy doing it.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

The famous economist Milton Friedman said "There is no free lunch". In the case of Wal-Mart or really any business, paying employees more means that its customers end up paying more for the goods & services they purchase. So is everyone critisizing businesses happy to pay more, potentially lots more for everything you buy? Do you really want to take a step backwards economically? Think about it.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

Not only do you NOT understand Milton Friedman, you also don't understand what happened to societies where his ideas were implemented. Chile and Argentina, for instance. People will either make decent middle class wages and feed a virtuous circle of economic activity or they will be given less and less for their toil and feed a vicious cycle relentlessly driven to the bottom. Then no one will be able to buy the products they make. Even Henry Ford (no socialist) understood that he needed to pay his workers enough to be able to buy the cars they were making.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:19 a.m.

I chuckle every time someone mentions Milton Friedman. The same guy who thought that licensing requirements for physicians or laws restricting the sale of heroin interfered with free enterprise.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Actually, in the case of Wal-Mart, it means that taxpayers cover the workers' food stamps, Section 8 rent, and Medicaid. Milton Friedman would not have supported a company artificially lowering its prices by externalizing labor costs on to the government.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Profit is what makes the world go round. If the workers don't like it quit.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

So wal -mart making higher profits that go into their pockets and not back into the population is okay with people like you?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Which store is a better alternative? They're all very similar in pay structure. If Walmart closed for good there would be someone to take their place very quickly.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

I worked at Meijer (a union store) where I was paid exactly the same (aka the state mandated minimum wage) as I would've been at Wal-Mart, except at the end of the day, I got paid less because of dues so UFCW reps could come in and badger me for money around election time.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.

costco is great i shop there, however you need a regular grocery store to complement it. Country market was dirty and old, I would never buy produce from there. Don't complain about walmart unless you can provide a viable alternative.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

COSTCo pays better. Country Mkt in Saline supplied their employees with health care benefits, now many of those people are out of a job or working for less at Wal-Mart. Employees covered by company health insurance Costco - 82% Wal-Mart - 48% Insurance-enrollment waiting periods (for part-time workers) Costco - 6 months Wal-Mart - 2 years Portion of health-care premium paid by company Costco - 92% Wal-Mart - 66% Annual worker turnover rate Costco - 24% Wal-Mart - 50% Fulltime employee's average hourly wage Costco - $17 Wal-Mart - s $9.68. CEO's total 2004 pay Costco - James Sinegal [Issaquah, Washington-based] $2.7 million Wal-Mart - H. Lee Scott [Bentonville, Arkansas] $17.9 million


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

On two seperate occasions in my life, i worked in retail at Meijer. Now at Meijer, it was common knowledge that the store only closes on the evening of Christmas Eve and reopens the morning of 12/26, so unless Thursday was your regular day off, there was never an expectation that you wouldn't be working on Thanksgiving. I assume it is the same on the 24/7 Wal-Marts (I believe the Saline-Pittsfield one is 24/7). I didn't particulary enjoy working on Thanksgiving, but it wasn't a problem for me or most of the workstaff. The workers with families scheduled their Thanksgiving around it anyways and the workers without families (of which there were quite a few) didn't care.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

"dissatisfaction from employees at the country's major chains over the increased hours" This is NOT true for me. I welcome increased hours, and i'm sure many people working at Walmart and Target feel the same. Statements like this make retail works sound lazy. I work at petco and they refuse to give me more than 29 hours a week.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

The American worker is 10 times more productive today than they where in the 1960s but their wages have only gone up 3times as much. That means the buisness are making 7 times the profits.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

There is a book that should be required reading in every high school entitled "How Wal-Mart is Destroying America(and the world), and What you Can do About it" but be prepared, this well-researched book is not for the faint of heart. Prepare yourself for a healthy does of disgust. That said, I absolutely and unequivocally support the workers. no apologies. SOLIDARITY FOREVER!!!!!!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Also the rallying cry of the Service Employees International Union who is currently screwing over thousands of people trying to get home to their families (the people you supposedly care about so much) by going on strike at LAX, one of the busiest airports in the world on the busiest travel day of the year. Gotta love that solidarity huh? Unless you're one of the innocent victims on the receiving end of it.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Solidarity forever !!!!! The rallying cry of The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union, And 18,500 of their newly unemployed, no longer dues paying members.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Military service, public safety employees, hospital employees etc are required 24 hrs/day-365. I don't see the same need for retail sales on Thanksgiving. If you joined the Navy, you probably knew what you were getting into. Most retail employees expect to have t-day off, it being a NATIONAL Holiday of Thanks. When you were in the Navy you received free health care, free housing, free food etc. I bet now that you are out of the Navy you still get stuff from the government/taxpayers.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

clownfish, you refer to the benefits as "free". The "free stuff" is part of the employment contract. Like any employer (Microsoft, Ford, IBM,...) the benefits package attracts the talent. What is the price for four years of a person's life? All the "free stuff" is paid for with a work schedule of 24/7/365.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

I have no disdain for service members, I respect their service. Please do not make things up about me to make yourself feel better. But, they are government employees that receive benefits from the tax payer, those are facts. If there is going to be this bizarre comparison between Wal-Mart employees and those that serve in the military then let's have a decent comparison of benefits.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Clown, your contempt for our military and those who serve in it are clear. I get it. And you're certainly entitled to your opinion, as am I. But your disdain for service members is only matched by your complete and utter ignorance of military life. If you were to add up my base salary at my highest pay grade, the medical benefits, Housing allowance etc, and divide all that by the total amount of time I spent on the job during deployments, I guarantee you my hourly wage was a lot less than the average Walmart employee. And my working conditions were far worse. And while we might have complained about having to be away from our families, we didn't have the luxury of screwing over our employer by going on strike simply because we felt entitled to a day off. Nor could we simply quit if we were unsatisfied with the job. And to answer your question about government benefits following my discharge, no, I haven't received any care at the VA. My medical coverage is paid for by myself and my current employer. Though I don't begrudge veterans who utilize the VA health services since every service member had at one time taken an oath that might have involved sacrificing their lives for their country. So while your apples to oranges comparison is certainly amusing, your misguided views are light years removed from reality.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Brad, that is not what I said, or implied. I merely stated a fact that people that join the military do get free stuff, often long after they leave service. If it is good for the DoJ to give dental care for it's employees, why can't Wal-Mart do it? after all the US govt is broke but the Waltons are worth billions.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Yeah, @clown - all those military people are just in it for all the great FREE STUFF!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

BS3, I have to assume that you never use the VA and never intend to use any of their services? Is this correct?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

BS, I buy them ahead., it's called "being prepared". It being a National Holiday I expect the stores to give their employees Family Values time and to be closed. I can handle not being able to buy things a couple of days a year without being a crybaby about it.

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Where would you find grocery's that you may need Thanksgiving day if all were closed?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Where is the atheist crowd on this one?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:14 p.m.

Julie, As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God".


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

I was not aware that this was a religious issue.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

This atheist is listing all of the government benefits the "Free Market" crowd supports for Wal-Mart. And then I am going to gobble down some turkey and watch football with my family, without The Church having anything to do with it.

a2 Brute?

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Whistlin' while they work.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

what does atheism have to do with this? It's not a religious holiday. You can give thanks to the turkey, the Giant Spaghetti Monster, or whatever floats your gravy boat.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Thanksgiving isn't a christain holiday even though they keep trying to mske it one.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

I bet they're not waiting outside of Walmart.

music to my ear

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

those stores who are trying to get ahead of black friday, are just out and out GREEDY. so the traditional black friday shopping that all the people wait for is ruin, no fun there bub Back when I worked retail we had a sign up sheet if you wanted to work hoildays it was a choice ,I bet now it is mandatory, And I bet these people will not get any incentives for their sacrifice WHO in the double hockey sticks wants to go to work with a belly full, (not to mention L-triphane from the turkey) They have to cut their visit short to get ready for work (what if they have out of town family visiting) I am sure if not a manager alot of people will be looking for work


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

And while the current discussion centers on retail workers, let's not forget all the health care, public safety, military, utility and similar people for whom every holiday is a potential work day. I'll give some thanks for them.

music to my ear

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

oh by the way I am not anti Obama


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

Except unlike wal-mart, those working for say their local fire/police department and Consumers/DTE and nurses get more than their base hourly wage on holidays. I am grateful for them working on holidays.

music to my ear

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

yes all because the big money tax payers(the stores) want to be greedy they all have to work, where is our president (OH I Know in Hawaii) can we get a little heck no from the pres,


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

More than a dozen other states have reported large numbers of big-box employees and their dependents relying on health and welfare programs: In Florida, according to state data obtained by the St. Petersburg Times, 12,300 Wal-Mart employees and their dependents are enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. Massachusetts spent nearly $3 million last year providing health insurance coverage for Wal-Mart employees and their dependents. Other top users of state welfare programs included employees of Dunkin Donuts, Stop & Shop, CVS, and Home Depot. In Arkansas, Wal-Mart's home state, 3,971 of its employees rely on some form of public assistance. "In effect, this is a public subsidy for Wal-Mart, which places Maine-owned companies that do pay decent wages and provide health benefits at a competitive disadvantage," If you shop at Wal-Mart you help continue the nanny state.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

Gee, and here I thought the so-called "conservatives" that post here were in favor of Family Values and less government support. But, here they are, telling us families should not spend time together on Thanksgiving and that it is fine for Wal-Mart to rely on the government to supply benefits to their employees. I guess all of the talk about less govt and Family Values was just so much talk. If it means they get to "save" 10% on imported stuff, they are fine with other people picking up the tab. ---The U.C. Berkeley Labor Center crunched the numbers in 2004 and found that Walmart workers' reliance on public assistance programs cost California taxpayers $86 million annually. The families of Walmart workers used 38 percent more non-health benefits—food stamps, subsidized school lunches—than the families of employees of other large retailers. -a January 2012 Walmart Associate Benefits book provides a directory so associates can locate their local Medicaid office. -- Maine Department of Health and Human Services: a one-time count of how many employees of each of the state's top twenty employers applied and qualified for one of the state's health or welfare programs during the month of May 2005. The count includes only employees, not their children or other dependents who may have also received benefits. Of the twenty companies, Wal-Mart tops the list both in terms of total number of employees receiving benefits—751—and what percentage of the company's Maine workforce this represented. The data suggest that more than ten percent of Wal-Mart employees rely on public assistance to make ends meet?far more than other companies on the list, including other retailers.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

It took wal-mart just a few hours to shut down it's store in Canada when their workers tried to unionize. I wouldn't call their bluff to do it again and at multiple locations. That being said I do not shop there. Not so much out of righteous political outrage, but more so the clientel that shops there.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Let them shut em down. Do you think Wal Mart closing a store hurt Quebec? It didn't. Saline and Ypsi would be better off without Wal Mart, LET THEM CLOSE UP


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

I just finished reading a small blurb that I wish every state in the union would adopt. Blue Law. New England has a ban on all stores opening on Thanksgiving day. Midnite ok, but not the holiday. Gov Snyder? Are you listening?

Basic Bob

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

Right, but if you voluntarily close on Sunday, such as Chick-Fil-A, you are a right wing reactionary bigot.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

There is a reason that blue laws are disappearing. They tend to lose when put to a vote.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

I grew up in the 60's-70's and Blue Laws were abundant. I'm all for bringing them back. In a society where it's all 24/7, apparently someone has to tell all the 'Children' what to do. I thank my employers for closing early on Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years eves.

Ben Freed

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

To those criticizing the workers and those defending them, have you ever had to work on Thanksgiving or on the Friday after? Care to share your experience, what it was like?


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

I've had to work every holiday in one year or another. Most companies (I've worked for) that have to operate on holidays (restaurants, movie theaters, TV networks) split the day up so people can plan on having a meal with the family. I'd guess most Walmart managers do this, too. They don't want to be there any more than their employees. These decisions come down from the billionaires at the top. This job action is not about having to work on Thanksgiving. It's just the high profile day chosen for it. Walmart helped them out by instituting some particularly egregious hours which, even Walmart shopping drones, found to be abusive.


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:11 a.m.

I would beg to differ with your "American Entitlement Worldview" comment. This is purely an American phenomenon to begin with. Go to virtually any other country in the world and a holiday is a holiday, stores are closed, people have the day off.

Lizzy Alfs

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I have to work on Thanksgiving to cover people working on Thanksgiving ;)


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

I have worked most holidays. I was paid triple time, most was voluntary, not mandatory. At no time did my employers rely on tax payers to provide my kids with food or health care, unlike Wal-Mart.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

What is the definition of HAVE to work? Many organizations, including the much maligned US federal govt do not give the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday. My first job was with the government, and I didn't have enough paid leave to take it off, and couldn't afford not to work, so I did. No big deal!!! It's making people come in on Thursday after dinner, or midnight or 1AM on Friday that seems objectionable - along with entire atmosphere of crazed people stampeding after what is basically junk.... If you miss shopping on Friday to work is that a huge deal?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Served 10 years in the Navy. I've lost track of how many holidays I've missed. That includes deployments of up to nine months where I was away from my family EVERY day. As a civilian I've also worked many holidays and in fact, will be working this Thursday and Friday. But I also have 104 other days off, as do most other people. It's called weekends


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

I had to work all holidays I was scheduled at my previous job, unless I could get someone to cover my shift (and there were many that wanted the OT). It wasn't bad, just reschedule the family stuff for later in the day, or earlier. Work is work. All of this really goes back to the American Entitlement Worldview.

tom swift jr.

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.

Stay home on Thursday, and Friday, and, just for the heck of it, Saturday too. Let's do something that might, eventually, allow these folks to spend Thanksgiving with their families. People, once it isn't all about THINGS, MORE THINGS!!!! your life will get a lot better, happier, more peaceful, and balanced.....


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

Actually, go OUT on Saturday - it's small business Saturday! Go shopping in businesses owned by human beings...not cooperations.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Our country established Thanksgiving as a National Holiday and now Walmart and Target want to prevent their employees from celebrating it by threatening termination if they don't give up their holiday. The working class is being dealt another setback as they are forced to work for low wages and not be with their families. Republicans in this state led by Senator Randy Richardville are secretly preparing to make Michigan the next right to work for less state so his "Pure Michigan" ads can promote coming here not only for vacations but for cheap labor too. Soon only millionaires will be able to enjoy Thanksgiving.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

The Walmart juggernaut is one of the reasons we have had so many jobs outsourced to China, in their quest to have the lowest prices. At the same time, it's well- documented that when a store moves into an area, local stores are closed, wages go down, and too many workers are hired part-time to keep from offering them benefits. Does anyone really need to shop on thanksgiving evening? NO. For a few of you that seem to harp on the Walmart workers, shame on you. Walmart doesn't pay enough of a living wage, so we end up subsidizing many of their employees by providing food stamps and Medicare. Now, if Walmart said that they would pay their worker triple wages to work that evening, and make it voluntary, maybe that would be something. But, no they are being asked to bust their butts when you are home sitting on yours. Shop locally-owned stores and avoid Walmart.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2 p.m.

I have even a better suggestion. Stay away from any store that sells these cheap imported products. There are domestic websites online, such as and that sell domestic products made by American workers. Yes they are a bit more expensive but are BUILT TO LAST. Instant gratification has killed the economy in this country and instead of persevering people buy anything that is cheap. There is a saying "you get what you pay for."


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

I'm not a fan of whiny workers, however the root problem of the economics of this country (and some others) is the inherent greed and instant gratification of people today, and that's pandered to by retailers pushing the OPEN sign. Retail has evolved into some sick Pavlovian experiment. The attitude of I want it and I want it NOW is the mantra of society. I side with the workers on this one. It's a HOLIDAY. Stay home with your families, slow your roll, and quit the constant battle to one up your neighbours. Is it really worth leaving your family to go to a STORE on Thanksgiving? Is it worth being trampled by greedy people clambering over an imported, cheap $19.99 big screen TV that will break in 3 months? Is it worth beating people for that all so important TOY that you're allowing your CHILD to dictate that he/she MUST HAVE, and will lose interest in a week after getting? Seriously. Get a grip. Stay home. 99% of the people who complain about working so much, and not having enough family time, are the first ones to go running to the mall to go spend money they don't have on stuff they don't need on a HOLIDAY.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

very well said!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

Bob W. I agree it should be more about the customers not shopping on Thursday (and for that matter even maybe Friday). Family should be worth more then some sale price for any item. We the customers should think before we judge the workers at a retail store. For years my husband worked in retail. I felt like a single parent from mid-October through January. We as customers can stop this madness!!!!!!!!


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Retailers need to grow some and just close their doors. Period. Today's consumers are like zombies. They're working on brain stem functions and seeking immediate gratification to the detriment of others.

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

So this is the new democratic process ..................hang on America.we are heading for disaster !!!!

harry b

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

The workers have a valid problem. Walmart was one of the most profitable companies last year in America but still pay their employee extremely low even when compared to other retail stores. Don't say they dont have to work there if they dont want to. It's not like unemployement is at 2%. Many people do not have any options and have this nagging problem called hunger.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

"I think the larger issue for Walmart is one of reputation. The bigger the story gets, the more likely it is that people will decide to shop elsewhere ... . The larger effects would come down the line." This so called "labor expert" is so out of touch with reality I'd like to ask him what color the sky is in his world. As food prices and gas prices continue to soar people will continue to shop at places that offer less expensive prices and more convenience. Only those who don't have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck will spend more money traveling to more stores to pay higher prices simply to voice their own misguided agendas. Rant and rave with your pitchforks and torches all you want about the evil corporate empire (that provides thousands of jobs, pumps millions of dollars into local economies, and provides substantial investment returns to pension funds) but this ridiculous protest won't harm Walmart at all.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Which is EVERYTHING that is wrong with this country. You want to know why there are fewer jobs in this country? WALMART. They demand cheaper and cheaper products. They want items that are cheap, last a short time and need to be replaced. If you think a country that uses forced labor camps in southeast Asia to help keep your prices low, then you believe in slavery. Why did those black people rebel against being slaves, I mean they fed them, gave them shelter and clothes. Why were they complaining? If you accept that lower prices are what matters and YOUR pocket book is your moral compass, you have shown everybody what you really are all about.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:53 a.m.

Hmmmm I don't like having to work on Thanksgiving. As a matter of fact, I don't like having to work on ANY Thursday at all!. Think I'll organize a nationwide strike against my company just because I don't feel like working. Heck, let's throw in Fridays as well. Four day weekends for all!!! When did we become a nation of such lazy whiners?


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

This job action is about getting a wide range of working conditions addressed. They are doing it ON Thanksgiving to make a point.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

Lazy whiners? As in the managers of Hostess who think they're entitled to bonuses despite declaring bankruptcy?

harry b

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

I dont think the strike is not so much about working on Thanksgiving as it is the low pay. Walmart was one of the most profitable companies in america last year but the still pay their employees extremely low pay.

sun runner

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

I don't think it's "lazy whining" to wish to spend a relaxing, uninterrupted evening with one's family.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

My last job, if I was scheduled to work the holidays, I worked the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. Granted, I got overtime if I worked those days and being the job that it was (at a residential treatment facility for troubled/adjudicated teenage boys), someone has to work, regardless of the day of the week it was. Was it not so great being with family all day, maybe, but I tried to make it a point to give those that were there a good holiday when they couldn't be at home with their families. Heck, I knew people that purposely tried to pick up extra shifts on holidays to get some extra overtime or double time.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

When Rush Limbaugh got a daily program.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

So you think that working for the company that pays you is considered "not treating great"???

mike gatti

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

When did we become a nation of lazy whiners? It is one day a year and these people are not treated great to begin with and.. oh I will wait while you tell Oliver Twist he cannot have more gruel. Ok, these people's time with their families is important just as yours is and mine is and one day a year is not a lot to ask. there will be imported crap to sell on Friday. Really it will be ok.

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Let's do everything possible to shut down any business that employes workers and let's get these workers on welfare, food stamps etc. and off the tax that is the new American dream.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

And the Governments definition of "welfare" includes all of the different categories and types of safety net programs. Perhaps some investigation before just spouting inaccurate numbers next would help. To suggest that welfare programs exceed Defense programs ought to have given the first clue you were off base by a magnitude of trillions of dollars. ROFL.

Kent Jocque

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

I'll try it this way then: /federal_budget_detail_fy13rs12012n


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

As so eloquently stated above, Mr Dark Studly Horse, right now YOU are paying extra taxes to support currently employed Wal-Mart employees. Most Wal-Mart stores are built using tax payer subsidies and credits. In 2005, in Georgia, 1 in 4 children of Wal-Mart employees was on PeachCare, Geoargias PUBLIC medical assistance program. They accounted for almost 8% of the kids on that program. In California the tax payers paid out nearly $32 million to provide health care to Wal-Mart employees and another $54 million in other federal assistance. One study showed this taxpayer cost breakdown for ONE Wal-Mart store with 200 employees $36,000 a year for free or reduced school lunches, assuming that 50 families of employees qualify. * $42,000 a year for Section 8 rental assistance, assuming that 3% of the store employees qualify. * $125,000 a year for federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families, assuming that 50 employees are heads of households with a child, and 50 employees are married with two children. * $108,000 a year for the additional federal contribution to state children's health insurance programs, assuming that 30 employees with an average of two children qualify. * $100,000 a year for additional Title I expenses, assuming 50 families with two children qualify. * $9,750 a year for the additional costs of low-income energy assistance. Meanwhile the owners of Wal-Mart have received massive tax cuts that you are going to have to subsidize.

Kent Jocque

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

The first URL I referenced got truncated. It is:

Elijah Shalis

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Maybe you Conservatives shouldn't have shipped all the good paying jobs to India and China.

Kent Jocque

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

To: Skyjockey43 Do you have a URL I can reference to confirm your comment? I found this: providing this breakdown for 2012: Defense - 24% Health Care - 22% Pensions - 22% Welfare - 12% Interest 6% Other Spending - 5% Education - 4% Transportation 3% Protection 2% General Government - 1% That web site,, also has 2013 and forward projections, none of which puts Welfare as the largest item of Federal spending. -Kent


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

The problem there is that a very large chunk of WalMart workers are on food stamps and other forms of public assistance. You're against their right to stand together and fight for wages suitable to be fully self sufficient? You think WalMart should have the right to pocket 15 billion in pure profit while taxpayers she'll out 2-3 billion a year to subsidize their la or costs by making up the difference in food stamps and employee health care? When did you become such a stanch advocate for corporate welfare Stallion? News flash - if we want a fair system where consumers pay fairly as they go (which I assume you are all for), then fights to increase worker wages beyond the poverty level will only help that goal, whether achieved through unions or government compensation standards. As it is, in order for you to save that extra 20 cents on a gallon of milk, everyone else has to pay for it from the other end through taxes that go toward welfare programs just enough to keep WalMart employees able to work there. If they fight for higher wages and win (and actually can actually get off taxpayer public assistance), maybe Walmart would have to price their products accordingly. Of if the market wouldn't bear the extra 10'cents on a gallon of milk or $5 on a flatscreen TV this would cost them, maybe the management and shareholders would have to take a 10-20% bite out of their massively inflated wages and profits (boo hoo, only 15 million for the CEO this year). And if they couldn't manage that, then maybe their business model just can't compete in a fair free market without government assistance, and the free market would finally truly dictate their growth and success. Why are you so much against letting the free market decide. What inspires you to stand so firmly behind artificially boosting profits for companies like this by demanding that taxpayers foot the bill to subsidize their labor?


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Welfare is now the largest item of Federal spending ( $1.076 billion 2012) and projected to grown by 30% over the next four years ($1.374 billion 2016) Source: Congressional Budget Office

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Who wrote this headline?? "and it's legal?" Of COURSE it's legal


Thu, Nov 22, 2012 : 6:01 a.m.

Your headline is still incorrect Ben. The alternative is that it is illegal and I can't imagine a single worker or member of the public that would believe that.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

He means "legally protected".

Ben Freed

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Alan, I wrote the headline. Many workers and members of the public do not know that it is within national private sector labor laws to strike without union representation and expect to not be retaliated against.

Bob W

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

A better and more affective approach would be if 'customers' boycotted these establishments during the early openings, but that 's not likely is it? :o(

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

I always boycot these anti-social stores. If you don't know why, please read up on their hours policies and the help they give employees in filing for public assistance to supplement their non wages, etc. These stores are (rest of comment ommitted because I know it's not decent and would get censored). Don't go there.

harry b

Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

If there is nobody to buy anything in the store doesn't it make the strike obsolete. Walmarts will save a lot of money not having to pay people while nobody shops in their store. I think it should be the opposite.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

I actually do boycott them. I am one of the people that does go out black Friday shopping. When stores started opening up on Thanksgiving; I simply refused to go.


Wed, Nov 21, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Bob, you're right. this is just one more reason why I will not EVER step foot in wal-mart, in the long line of problems I have with this evil entity.