Political Animal


November 20, 2012 4:49 PM Black Friday Advisory

By Ed Kilgore

Amidst the frenzy of Black Friday, there’s an important labor action occurring that does not—directly at least—involve a union. Yes, it’s at America’s most famously non-unionized company, Wal-Mart, where a coalition of workers (called OUR WalMart) is staging an “unfair labor practice” strike to protest retaliatory actions by the company that are prohibited by the National Labor Relations Act regardless of the presence or absence of a collective bargaining unit. Such strikes are themselves protected under the NLRA.

At TAP, Cole Stangler explains the Black Friday action:

OUR Walmart isn’t trying to push for union representation for Wal-Mart workers. The campaign is organizing behind a broad set of demands by building a network of allies and trying to pressure the company. “The fundamental difference is this isn’t a collective-bargaining organization, it’s a rights-based organization. At this point, there’s not a battle for a collective-bargaining agreement, there’s a battle to change the company,” Schlademan said of OUR Walmart. “All the other things that are the heart and soul of the labor movement and of workers’ organizing are there, which is collective action, workers pulling their resources together so they have a bigger voice, and utilizing the public to educate and build power to change the company.”

Many progressives, of course, make a point of not patronizing Wal-Mart any day of the year. If you are not among that group, you should definitely consider shopping elsewhere Friday. It’s a simple step you can take to encourage changes at Wal-Mart that may someday make it possible to shop there without guilt—or complicity.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on November 20, 2012 5:05 PM:

    I do not understand peoples need to shop like maniacs for stupid sh*t on the Friday after Thanksgiving - and never have.

    Last year, wasn't some poor worker killed at some store (WalMart?) when the morons rushed through the door like it was the last lifeboat leaving the Titanic, crushing him to death?

    What was so important that day, that you couldn't get on any other day, if you decided to wait?

    I worked in retail, in the Customer Service Department at Sears, while I went to College, and I hate shopping with the heat of 100,000 suns!
    My store closed at 5 on Christmas Eve, and Caldor closed at 6pm. What with work and tests, I never had a chance to shop for my family. So, I'd make sure everyone left, run over to Caldor, take a cart, and grab the sh*t that was left as I went down the aisles. When I got home, I looked at what I bought, and decided who got what.
    It wasn't great - but it was at least, a method.

    Don't worry about me going to WalMart on Black Friday. I won't even go near a store, because of the idiots creating traffic jams, trying to get in.

  • martin on November 20, 2012 5:15 PM:

    I feel like when we were supposed to boycott Coors Beer. How could I boycott them when I wouldn't drink their near beer anyway?

    Don't shop anywhere on Black Friday. If you must spend money, go to your local independent movie theatre or restaurant or anything other than corporate chains who are doing this because they got tired of watching rats in cages.

  • Andy Olsen on November 20, 2012 5:55 PM:

    Also, join the picket line. Bring a sign, maybe "Customers for Worker's Rights."

    I do wish they were unionizing. for one, they'd have more protections.

  • Rabbler on November 20, 2012 6:41 PM:

    How many babies did your man kill in Afghanistan with drones today, Eddie? Are you feeling any guilt or complicity? Some people have economic choices no better than your perceived political ones.

  • exlibra on November 20, 2012 7:50 PM:

    I doubt our Walmart is gonna see any action (other than frenzied shopping), on Black Friday; we're a small and very red county, in a "right to work" state. But I'm gonna go and see what gives. If there are pickets, I'll join; if there are, I'm coming home, Haven't shopped on Black Friday in 28 yrs, anyway; crowds frighten me.

  • exlibra on November 20, 2012 7:51 PM:

    "[...] if there are *none*, I'm coming home." Bleh

  • dweb on November 20, 2012 9:54 PM:

    For a detailed look at Walmart practices and their effects on workers, go here:


    and then onward to a detailed Guardian article that will make you very very angry.