Wal-Mart once again faces allegations of maltreatment of employees in the form of a class action lawsuit in the Chicago area. This has inspired employees nationwide to threaten a large-scale walkout on Black Friday. This threat comes just days before Wal-Mart decided to reveal it would open for Black Friday two hours earlier than last year.
According to the lawsuit, Wal-Mart violated minimum wage and overtime laws with hundreds of their temporary workers. According to those filing the lawsuit, Wal-Mart forced employees to work off-the-clock, refusing to pay the four-hour minimum required for contracted workers at the stores under scrutiny.
Last month, prior to the lawsuit, a Dallas-area Wal-Mart suffered its first walkout. This happened the morning of Oct. 9, according to Making Change at Wal-Mart, a division of the United Food and Commercial Workers union. The organization’s website claimed the walkout inspired workers in other metropolitan areas like Miami and Los Angeles to do the same.
MCW, according to the group’s website, seeks to push Wal-Mart into building the U.S. economy. Critics accuse Wal-Mart of doing the exactly the opposite and assert that Wal-Mart is destructive to many small communities. MCW focuses on unionization and family support for employees. Organizers are leading the charge toward a Black Friday walkout, riding on a recent surge of unrest across stores nationwide.
MCW spokesman Evan Yeats commented, “It’s a symbolic day, and it’s also a day when Wal-Mart needs their employees most.” Labor organizers want to make a point: either Wal-Mart starts getting serious about reforming their labor policies, or faces potentially serious ramifications.
Wal-Mart acknowledges they face the challenge of some of the highest turnover rates in the country. A company with experience in constant, rapid turnover will likely be able dismiss unruly and expendable workers with little challenge. The real threat for the company may come from further tarnishing the company’s already tainted image. The retail giant has faced frequent criticism for its treatment of workers.