Wal-Mart workers prepare to strike

The company faces uncomfortable questions about how it treats employees ahead of the important holiday season.

By Jonathan Berr Nov 21, 2012 12:32PM
The planned strike this week by workers at Wal-Mart (WMT) couldn't come at a worse time for the world's largest retailer.

It is under pressure from Wall Street to improve its lackluster sales ahead of the important holiday season. Wal-Mart, the country's largest private-sector employer, has battled efforts by unions to organize its workforce for years, and has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to stop the labor action aided by the United Food and Commercial Workers International.   Media reports say that a decision by the NLRB isn't expected before Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday.   Union-backed OUR Walmart, has fired back at the company, accusing it of "illegally attempting to deter workers from participating in strikes against the world's largest retailer on Friday," according to Reuters.
But even if it wins the latest battle, the Bentonville, Ark., company may lose the war over the long term as tries to protect its brand.

The company brags about its low prices. But many shoppers probably don't think much about how Wal-Mart makes this slogan a reality, which may start happening given the publicity the strike is getting. The average Wal-Mart associate earns about $8.81 an hour, or a yearly wage of about $15,500, meaning that hundreds of thousands of the company's workers live below the poverty line, according to unions. Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Our Walmart is seeking wages of $13 per hour, and is calling on the company to make full-time jobs available for employees who want them. The company disputes these characterizations and says on its website that it offers "competitive wages, good benefits and the chance to grow and build a career."

States worried about the growing costs of Medicaid have pressued Wal-Mart for years to improve worker benefits. In response, the company offered some benefits to those working less than 24 hours per week, only to reverse course last year and decree that new part-time employees would no longer get benefits and that people working 24 hours to 33 hours a week can no longer include their spouses in their coverage, though children are allowed.

Data from unions indicates that Wal-Mart employees are the largest recipients of government assistance among those that are employed in a huge number of states. That means that taxpayers are on the hook for these benefits to the tune of more than $1 billion.

Though it's unlikely the strike will put a dent in Wal-Mart's profits, some customers may start to wonder whether the company's low prices are worth the costs born by its employees.

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks.  Story is updated to provide details on the possible timing of a strike. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Tags: WMT
Nov 21, 2012 3:18PM
Don't like the pay, hours, way your treated and lack of benifits, do not work there. I can't imagine a time I would ever apply for a job at Wal-Mart
Nov 21, 2012 3:15PM

Bunch of G-- Damned wussies!  Unions are destroying this nation and running up the cost of doing business beyond the ability of companies to be profitable.  Unions are why businesses are going over seas.  If you dont like where you work, quit and find another job, dont join a socialist leaning union!


Others that work on holidays?  Military, Police, Fire fighters, Security Guards, Doctors, Nurses, Gas Station Attendents, Care-givers, Plumbers, maintence, and on and on.  Quit your freekin whining people, America is,  or WAS all about WORK!

Nov 21, 2012 3:14PM
I'll be supporting Wal-Mart on Thurs & Friday for sure.  I'll be damned if some union punk is going to tell me where to shop.  Also you might want to think about the people that ARE working for Wal-mart, they are making a paycheck maybe to feed their kid?  You Libs only believe in handouts, but working at Wal-mart is showing people like you that they have pride in themselves to take care of themselves.  UNIONS SUCK!!!!
Nov 21, 2012 3:14PM
Ahh, the wondereful unions will get these people fired, will the union help them then....I don't think so...these sheeple are idiots, if you don't like the working conditions then try and find another job,this is whatyou get with a give a away administration, people think they can just have it their way....and they'll be taken care of, I say fire em all theres plenty of people looking for work....
Nov 21, 2012 3:12PM

I would like to see every ungrateful Walmart employee who strikes lose their job.


I hope your holiday becomes your new day of unemployment.


You are ungrateful and I hope your life gets worse.


Happy Thanksgiving



Nov 21, 2012 3:11PM

"Though it's unlikely the strike will put a dent in Wal-Mart's profits, some customers may start to wonder whether the company's low prices are worth the costs born by its employees."


Doubtful, as the cashier will be a high school kid, who is not impoverished, and I'll get my HDTV at that low low price!

Nov 21, 2012 3:11PM
dont like working on thanksgiving? dont work @ walmart. get a job @ a gas station or go to barber college.
Nov 21, 2012 3:10PM
Walmart makes every corporation look bad. They are known for their poor treatment of workers and although I am not generally pro-union (not needed with a well run, decent company) I AM for the unions helping in this case. I have refused to shop there for years given the way they treat employees and will continue to do so. Corporate greed by a few at the top every now and then is expected-THIS company has made a reputation on its long history of poor employee treatment. They are disgusting and the level of greed is as well...hope the employees win and it comes back to haunt them..finally.....
Nov 21, 2012 3:09PM

Ask Obama to Retrain you to get better jobs. They don't need insurance they all now have Obamacare.

Unions once had there place - they can go away now. All they do is collect dues and spend your hard earned money. You all wonder why jobs are shipped over seas. $13 per hour to do an unskilled job!!  

Nov 21, 2012 3:07PM

walmart or anyone else, when you treat people like disposable labor, they know it.

Nov 21, 2012 3:07PM
Interesting to know that they treat their employees like they treat their customers on holidays...http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57553017-504083/black-friday-violence-police-and-retailers-prepare-for-crowds-and-chaos/

As an employer, as one of the biggest U.S. corporations, as a part of the human race - they should consider treating people with respect. This includes helping us to be safe and helping us to being treated fairly.

Nov 21, 2012 3:07PM
I have been in construction (management side) my entire working life.  I have worked along side union workers many times.  I have seen the good they provide, safety and not letting a company browbeat anyone.  I have seen the bad they do, make job performance irrelevant and keeping lazy asses employed.  I see them in these race to the bottom times as a necessary evil.  I have never been a member of a union and want no part of them still it seems like we are all far to willing to be thankfull to make less then we used to and work harder for it.  Yet those on top are not willing to make a penny less profit.  Unions seem to be one of the few who are willing to stand up and say no more.
Nov 21, 2012 3:06PM
Question#1: What is more important, money or humanity?  (You can't pick both, only one!)

Question #2 How much money do you need to be content?

Question #3: Who would you follow, a billionaire or politician with no moral's or ethics, or a hard working citizen that would give you his/her last dollar and put a roof over your head in time of need?

Money is nothing more than paper with ink on it. We as humanity have allowed it to enslave our children and the futures of their children, for what?

America, the only company (research it!) that I know of that openly celebrates indentured servitude. Am I wrong?  Usually, 2 -3 days after a child is born in the U.S., they are given a Social Security card, making them responsible for the national debt just like me and you. Then the child grows and tries to get an education, only to see the cost must be covered by loans, yet again another example of servitude. I know what you are going to say, "They choose the life they have and that they have the same chances as everyone else in the United States!"  Look at Watts, Chicago, Border towns of Texas, etc., no, they do not have the same chances or rights as others do! The wealthy demand the best and the pay for it, leaving others with sub-par means to facilitate an adequate education and income.  An education that only allows for sub-par earnings is conformity. Some may join the military, hoping to find a niche within the system. Willing to pay the ultimate price, never knowing the truth, only the lies that they are willing to die for. Others that can not withstand the military or pass its requirements become the hardcore homeless  and unemployed (Kennedy).

As a veteran, with 15 years of service (medically retired, honorable discharge), I am ashamed of you all that leave so much to be desired; equality. We are all human, and if you need things to separate yourself from humanity, and yes the homeless person are a part of humanity, then shame on you! No, shame on us!

As the system begins to crash, the light of humanity will shine to lead the way.

Nov 21, 2012 3:06PM
 just saw an ad for a mens clothing store where I live that they will open at 10pm Thanksgiving night till 2am Friday for a 60% off sale. I am desperately trying to find some union leaders/thugs to picket with me in protest. After all, arent these workers being bullied and abused like Wal Mart and deserve the same rights as WalMart employees?. 
Nov 21, 2012 3:05PM
Walmart changed when Sam Walton died.  It started with certain incentive ways employees could earn a bonus.  Slowly but surely just about all the benefits that employees receive have disappeared.   I am talking from experience for I worked for Walmart.  Even in some areas of the country,   Christmas bonus for employees are gone, yet management always got theirs.  I only shop at Walmart when I have too.   I hope that the American people can help these employees of Walmart.   Here is a company that shows Millions of Dollars in profit, yet they cannot take care of their own.  

As Sam Walton always said,  It is my employees that make this company great.  Or something like that.  I had some of his quotes at one time, I wish I could fine them.  He made sure his employees were well taken care of.

Not only that,  Sam Walton always made sure that his stores  had American made products in his store.   Most of the products that are in his stores today are from overseas.

Nov 21, 2012 3:04PM

The sad thing is Wal-Mart could easily afford to treat its employees better but doesn't. Wal-Mart and others are guilty of this. It is time these large companies start treating these employees fairly. Now when I say that I don't mean $20/hr to stock a shelf, have to be realistic for ones skill set, but a little bit better wage and some reasonable benefits isn't asking to much. I'm sure the Walton family could forgo a pay raise or bonus and not even notice. The sooner more companies realize the value in taking care of your employees the better off they will be when the employees strive to do a better job. Long term this is a good option and its to bad more employers don't see that. Just another line item expense to be cut without any concern (yes I know sometimes that is the only option).

I think its time

Nov 21, 2012 3:03PM





You just listed a number of profitable companies who employee many Americans. Ya, boycott them, that sovles everything.



Nov 21, 2012 3:03PM

Wal-Mart is a 24hour store (in most cases)  who have to work any other Thursday,but why complain? In this economy you should be happy and fortunate to have a job even if it is 8bucks an hour. But I want to stress this.......... OUR SOLIDERS are working Thanksgiving, Blackfriday, Christmas and any other Holiday; they are NOT with their Families, How about their rights? Who defends their rights to go against their employer, NOT the Complaining Wal-Mart employee who gets to go home every day and spend some kind of time with their family. I think Wal-Mart employees that are going to do this have LOST ALL perspective. Just my view.

Nov 21, 2012 3:02PM
Well, that will be a good way to get prices raised across the board.  We will all pay for the higher wages.  And Walmart isn't usually seen as a career choice so it doesn't necessarily have to compete as one.  It is great as a second income, but most of the people that have ever worked there didn't plan on retiring from there.  And what about Kmart, Rite Aid, Walgreens?  Has anybody compared them to walmart standards or is this just another envious jab at Walmart's success? 
Nov 21, 2012 3:01PM

"There is a reason non-union companies do better than companies with unions."


It's the same reason companies with non-union labor don't do as well as companies with slave labor.

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