It may be a painful holiday season for the biggest retailer in the US. In protests against low wages, increasing health care premiums, and alleged retaliation from management, Wal-Mart Stores workers had started to walk off the job last week. On Wednesday, around a dozen workers in Wal-Mart's distribution warehouses in Southern California walked out, followed the next day by over 30 from six stores in the Seattle area.
According to the workers, who belong to the union-backed employee coalition called Making Change at Wal-Mart this was the beginning of a wave of protests and strikes leading up to next week's Black Friday. According to the group, a thousand store protests had been planned in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Washington, DC, the group says.
In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, workers who had already joined the strike or were going to strike said they had to borrow money from each other just to make it to work.
According to the workers the deduction from their bimonthly pay check for health-care costs was scheduled to triple in January. In 2013, Wal-Mart plans to scale back its contributions to workers' health-care premiums, which are expected to rise between 8 per cent and 36 per cent.
Many employees would opt out of coverage Reuters reported.
Along with Target and Sears, Wal-Mart had plans to open retail stores at 8 pm on Thanksgiving nitght, but according to employees they were not given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning.