“…So next Thanksgiving, when you’re sitting at the, at the dinner table and some of your family’s not there because they’re at work this is why…”
A Black Friday labor demonstration at the parking lot entrance of the Walmart store in Roeland Park, Kansas.
Starting at noon today approximately one hundred people, a mix of union members, young people, and older activists, demonstrated in front of the Walmart store in Roeland Park, Kansas, protesting the Thanksgiving evening opening and other worker issues. The union members, identifiable by the logos on their clothing, included Teamsters, Communications Workers of America, United Auto Workers, and Carpenters/Joiners.
Mike Frommer, one of the organizers, spoke with the media:
Mike Frommer: …Living wage, full time employment, uh, and most of all, protection from retaliation, to be able to say these things without somebody saying, hey, you know, you’re gonna lose your job if you’re talking like that.
Question: There was a group at Independence [Missouri], at the Walmart. Is there another group, or do you know?
Mike Frommer: Uh, this is, you know, this is a, uh, it’s an online thing.
Mike Frommer: Any individual group can go online, pick out a demonstration that they want to attend, and, and just kind of do their own thing.
Question: It’s not a real organized, just for like [crosstalk][inaudible] here, if you want to show up.
Mike Frommer: It’s, yeah, you can do, you can do it anywhere, you know, any group, we’ve had people that have gone out strike in, in places like Oklahoma City where the workers just walked out. They contacted no one. They just did it by using the web site.
Question: Have any Walmart workers walked out today [crosstalk] that are in this group?
Mike Frommer: At this store? Not at this store.
Mike Frommer: But we just chose this store, just for, for solidarity.
Question: And is it just about Walmart, or is it other retailers that?
Mike Frommer: Well, I, I think Walmart sets the standard. Walmart set the standard to open on Thanksgiving night. Sears, Kmart, everybody else followed suit. When Walmart does it everybody else does it. So next Thanksgiving, when you’re sitting at the, at the dinner table and some of your family’s not there because they’re at work this is why.
The demonstration press release:
For release Nov. 23, 2012
Contacts: Judy Ancel, KC Jobs with Justice [….]
Mike Frommer, UFCW [….]
Santino Scalici, autoworker and UAW member [….]
Local Citizens Join Nationwide Black Friday Protest Against Walmart
A group of local citizens and working people will gather outside the Walmart Store at 5150 Roe Blvd, Roeland Park, KS at noon on Black Friday, Nov. 23rd. They come together to stand with retail and warehouse workers who will be striking and demanding respect and their rights from Walmart on this the busiest shopping day of the year.
Starting last summer, workers all along Walmart’s production chain began the first-ever strikes against the company. Many have joined OUR WALMART, a mutual aid organization of Walmart workers. A number as a result are now facing retaliation by Walmart.
Friday’s rally is organized by Kansas City area working people, including a number of union members, and Kansas City Jobs with Justice, who are concerned about the effects of Walmart’s low wages and poor treatment of its associates on all workers and our communities. They object to retaliation against workers who are protesting bad conditions and harassment on the job. They are dismayed by Walmart’s discrimination against women workers and people of color, wages that average $8.81 an hour, unaffordable benefits, and shifting of costs onto taxpayers. The Missouri Department of Social Services reported last year that 10,028 Walmart employees and their families enrolled in Missouri’s Medicaid program- MO HealthNet, and its well-known that many Walmart Associates qualify for food stamps.
Walmart’s leadership in driving down standards can be seen in the progressive erosion of their workers’ Thanksgiving holiday in the last few years, which has now spread to their competitors. Black Friday has become Black Thursday eliminating one of the few times all year when families have a common holiday and can get together.
Santino Scalici, an autoworker and one of the organizers of Friday’s rally said, “We want Walmart workers to know that when Walmart retaliates against workers who stand up for their rights and dignity, we will be there to support them. It’s time we support Walmart workers in their legal right to a democratic voice in the decisions that affect their lives.”
[emphasis in original]
Pickets along Roe Boulevard in Roeland Park, Kansas.
Three Kansas City area television stations had crews covering the demonstration. There was at least one (apparent) print reporter interviewing people at the demonstration.
From what we heard in the crowd individuals entered a store in Independence, Missouri earlier in the day and passed out leaflets. They were told to leave.