Wal-Mart Black Friday protest extending to stores in Milwaukee area

MILWAUKEE — Wal-Mart workers across the country are planning a walkout during one of the biggest shopping events of the year — Black Friday! 

Workers say they’re protesting to push for better pay, fair schedules and affordable health care. It’s a nationwide protest, and includes stores in the Milwaukee area.

Wal-Mart employs nearly one million workers across the nation, and stores are gearing up for the busy Black Friday. 

“We’ve got some of the best jobs in the retail industry, and our associates appreciate that,” David Tovar said.

Steven French has worked at the big box retailer for eight months. He says the wages he and many of his co-workers earn don’t allow them to provide enough for their families.

“It’s a billion dollar corporation, and I find it sad that a lot of associates that work there still have to depend on state aid. With the prices, with the amount that they take out of our paychecks, like the benefits, don’t necessarily add up,” French said.

French said he plans to join other workers in the walkout on Black Friday — the first official day of the holiday shopping season.

“With the attention Black Friday itself gets, it will be a good chance for our voices to be heard,” French said.

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in response to the threats of a strike. The retailer says the unions “Our Wal-Mart” unlawfully organized picket lines and is forcing Wal-Mart into collective bargaining, even though it is not the official union for employees.

“20% 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,” Tovar said.

The “Our Wal-Mart” Union is a subsidy of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The Wal-Mart union says the walkout will begin as early as Thanksgiving night, when some Wal-Mart stores open.

There is a strike event planned in Milwaukee. Workers say they will be told either Wednesday or Thursday when and where that will take place.

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