Mich. Wal-Mart is site of Black Friday labor rally

About 100 people took part in a union-organized Black Friday protest outside a Detroit-area Wal-Mart.
AP Wire
Nov 30, 2013

The Friday afternoon rally in Sterling Heights, north of Detroit, was among a number held across the country on the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Critics want the Arkansas-based retailer to pay workers at least $25,000 per year and offer more full-time jobs. A petition signed by 1,400 people was given to a Wal-Mart official outside the Sterling Heights store, said Sara Wallenfang, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO.

"I think a message needs to be sent to the company," former Wal-Mart worker Robin Edwards told the Detroit Free Press at the rally. "We're standing with the Wal-Mart workers and support them. And we're here to fight for a higher minimum wage."

The 56-year-old Edwards, of Detroit, said she stopped working for Wal-Mart about 10 years ago. The $18,000 she was making each year was not enough to live on, she said.

By increasing employee wages, Wal-Mart would give its workers more "purchasing power, create more jobs and improve the economy," organizers of Friday's rally said in a release.

Wal-Mart has been a target for protests against holiday hours. Most Wal-Mart stores are open 24 hours, but it started sales events at 6 p.m. Thursday, two hours earlier than usual.

Wal-Mart says it's received good feedback from employees about working the holiday.

About 20 of its stores across the country were targeted Friday by protesters, Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg told The Associated Press.

"By and large they just didn't involve anybody who works at the company," he said.

About 15 current Wal-Mart employees took part in the rallies at six locations, and there were no reported disruptions for customers, Lundberg added.

"We don't think this will have any impact to our overall business," he said.

Comments

Mystic Michael

It is entirely appropriate that at least one of these national anti-Walmart rallies should take place in Michigan - given Michigan's prominent role in the history of the organized labor movement. Sad it is as well that Michigan, of all places, should succumb to the deceivingly-named, anti-worker "right to work" regime. It is truly painful to see...and will hopefully be one of the first things to be corrected once Rick Snyder is kicked out of office at the next election, and Republicans demoted from their current majorities in the state House & Senate.

ohwell

It is a Republican's fault that Walmart treats their employees like crap??? Hmmmmm........

There is more than one non-union retailer in MI that have happy employees. You don't see those employees trying to bring a union on property. This isn't about Snyder or any Republican. It is about how a company that treats their employees.

Tri-cities realist

Instead people should be forced to join unions with which they disagree, unions that pump millions into democrat coffers, who then institute policies which stifle business growth. Yeah, right to work is just awful. Give me a break.

Lanivan

Technically speaking, you are incorrect. Workers are never required to join unions.

Workers who choose not to join a union receive the same wages and benefits, have the same rights to seniority and promotion. The three things they don't get: they can't vote in union elections, they won't get robocalls from the union reminding them to vote in the next election, and they don't get union representation in disputes with the employer.

Would you list some examples of unions that institute policies which stifle business growth?

Tri-cities realist

A quick google search yields this one: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/n...

Or this one: http://m.washingtontimes.com/new...

Or this: http://m.townhall.com/columnists...

I could go on and on. And I have a local example I experienced first hand with a local manufacturer. The union contract stipulated that each union member could only be required to oversee one machine (they sat idle more than half of their work day, reading, listening to music, etc. while the machine ran automatically. They would inspect parts for about 10 minutes out of every hour.) Other non-union companies routinely had one person overseeing 2 or more machines, and we are not talking grueling sweat shop type work. The company could not be competitive due to the high labor cost directly attributed to the union contract. So they shut down that portion of the business, when new business dried up. Unions stifling business growth can be seen in a lot of places, if you open your eyes.

Lanivan

Thanks for the links - they obviously were "quick" ones.

I can understand your opinion being formed by your experience with the local manufacturer. Just reading about it ticks me off - but I think it bears stating the obvious: a few bad apples do not an apple pie make. It's quick and easy to blame unions for what could essentially be bad management that results in a lack of motivation and/or oversight.

Union influence has waned dramatically in the last 30 years. The number of American workers in unions declined sharply in 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with the percentage slipping to 11.9 percent, the lowest rate in more than 70 years. I think the number of unionized workers in Michigan is now down to around 12%. With the power and influence of unions waning, why the big push to blame unions for the sins of the business community and make them a convenient scapegoat for non-competitive business practices?

The right-to-work law is another big government ALEC regulation that is unnecessary and ineffective. Studies show that the income discrepancy between RTW states and non-RTW states is about $5,400-$6,000, with the RTW workers getting the short end of the stick. There is little evidence that RTW states draw more businesses, and of those businesses who do invest in those states, the RTW law generally isn't the reason for that investment.

In Michigan, the new RTW law shows little to no bang for the buck after one year in. Of course, advocates say "it's too early to make assumptions".

Did I mention that RTW workers make, on average, about $5,400-6,000 LESS than non-RTW workers?

Barry Soetoro

How long have you belonged to a union, L?

Lanivan

I'd be happy to answer, but I question it's relevancy.

Tri-cities realist

All of the Walmart employees I encountered this weekend were smiling and seemed happy to be working there. For those that don't like working at Walmart, go work somewhere else.

Lanivan

And, inversely, I'm sure you would agree that those who do not wish to work at a unionized shop and be members of a union are free in our society to go work somewhere else - like a non-unionized shop.

As for the smiling Wal-Mart workers, did you inquire as to whether they were happy with their jobs? Or were they just being customer-oriented? Did you ask them whether, thanks to the Republican train wreck that brought about a miserable economy and employment environment, they were forced to be happy with a job that more than likely provides a wage with no benefits that allows them to qualify for SNAP benefits, thus enabling the corporate welfare and federal largesse their employer enjoys?

Tri-cities realist

Yes, I used the exact same words you did, and their eyes glossed over. And yes I agree that people are free to choose not to work at a union shop. And do you know how difficult it is to get a union out of a shop, even when the majority of workers don't want the union?

Lanivan

No, I don't. Perhaps you will enlighten me.

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.