“Black Friday” Protests Against Walmart in Albuquerque: A Photo Essay


Sam Walton founded Walmart in 1962. Today his trinket-selling retail outlet is the world’s third largest corporation and the largest employer in the United States with earnings last year in excess of $16 billion. Walton’s children dominate Forbes’s list of the richest Americans. Christy Walton is the sixth richest American worth nearly $28 billion. Jim Walton, at number seven on the list, is valued at just under $27 billion. At number eight on the list, Alice Walton is valued at more than $26 billion. S. Robson Walton is the poorest member of the Walton family. His $26 billion worth places him just above New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at number nine on the list.

That wealth has been made on the backs of the more than 2.2 million Walmart workers worldwide. In the U.S., the average Walmart employee works less than 28 hours per week, makes $8.81 an hour and doesn’t qualify for benefits.

Despite these immiseration wages, none of the 8,500 Walmart or Walmart-affiliated stores in the U.S. are unionized. A group called “OUR Walmart,” however, is working to change that. Backed by a number of unions, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, OUR Walmart organized a walkout at a Los Angeles Walmart on October 9 of this year. Walmart workers then struck in dozens of other stores around the country. Protesters picketed company headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Last week, in reaction to the UFCW and OUR Walmart’s plans to organize Black Friday protests at 1,000 Walmart locations, Walmart filed a protest against the UFCW with the National Labor Relations Board (Wal-Mart-letter-to-UFCW). The complaint alleges that the actions would disrupt the busiest shopping day at Walmart stores.

The NLRB, however, made no ruling ahead of Black Friday. As a result, protests went on.  In Albuquerque, the New Mexico Federation of Labor organized a protest at the Walmart Supercenter at Carlisle and Menaul.

Protestors distribute signs as they prepare for a Black Friday protest outside a Walmart supercenter in Albuquerque. Photo by David Correia
Ellen Robinson donned the hat she brings to all protests and stationed herself at the main entrance to the Walmart parking lot. “I’m here because I used to live in a moblie home park. My neighbor worked at Walmart. She made less money working at Walmart than she could have made on welfare.” Photo by David Correia
Greg Frazier (left), President of UFCW Albuquerque discusses strategy with protestors. UFCW, along with the New Mexico Federation of Labor, organized the Albuquerque protest. By 9 AM on Black Friday, more than four dozen protestors picketed along all parking lot entrances and exits. Photo by David Correia
Kelley Allen represents administrative and office workers at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque as President of Local 251 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). “Walmart is vicious against those trying to organize” she said. “They pay notoriously low wages and provide no health insurance to most workers. Most of the workers at this Walmart qualify for Medicaid.” Photo by David Correia
Black Friday protestors stayed far away from Walmart’s main entrance where three APD cruisers and two posted uniformed officers blocked Walmart’s Carlisle/Menaul entrance during the Black Friday protests. The officers wandered away without comment when I asked if they were at the store because of the protests. A number of Walmart employees, however, who didn’t support the protest claimed that the police were posted at Walmart for “crowd control.” The parking lot, however, was so empty throughout the morning that protestors considered finding a busier location to protest. Photo by David Correia


    • Is it so difficult for socialists to understand that Walmart, and other businesses, are not created to provide jobs, health insurance, retirement, or any other perk. They are created for profit. The “benefits”, including wages, are to entice those willing to exchange labor and ideas for those benefits. The business owes employees nothing except what that employee is promised at hiring. Individuals are should be free to start their own businesses if they wish, but not free to feed off the efforts of others. We have enough parasites in the country now, and that number is steadily growing.

      • Cecil,
        It is so difficult for capitalists to understand that another world is possible. One where people are free to express their creativity rather than forced to sell their labor. One where health, safety and comfort is not distributed unevenly by virtue of class, but to all because each person deserves dignity. Most of us didn’t protest Wal-Mart because we wanted them to pay better salaries or benefits, but because we find in Wal-Mart everything wrong with the world we live in. We reject the idea that because misery and inequality exist in our world that somehow that means it ought to exist. The only people who make arguments like that are the ones whose privilege depends on that inequality.
        David Correia

      • My friend, we are not all “equal.” In every society, under every form of government, some rise to the top, others subsist on the labor of others. It is an unobtainable pipe-dream to believe the touchy-feely, warm-fuzzy world some envision is possible. Human nature is what it is. It may not be pretty, or PC, but the truth is, we are not all equal. Some will excel, some will fail. The best that can be expected is what Walmart offers, an opportunity to advance, and be compensated, for your effort and skill. No one deserves a free ride at the expense of others.

      • On this point we agree: “others subsist on the labor of others.” The Wal-Mart heirs are billionaires who live lives of leisure based on the back-breaking work of millions of minimum wage workers. Are they somehow “better”? More talented? No, they were born into wealth. It is they who get the free ride at the expense of others.
        David Correia

      • While it is true some are born into wealth, the majority of the “wealthy” earned that wealth. Those who have inherited their wealth will not keep it long unless they are skilled enough to handle their finances. Being wealthy is not a crime, or a sin. Not giving that wealth to those that have not earned it is not a crime or sin either. The best the “oppressed” can expect is just what Walmart gives them, a chance to advance, and do well on their own merit. No one is forced to work at Walmart, and working at Walmart does not entitle anyone to more than they agreed on when they were hired. Last time I was at Walmart, I saw no one being coerced into being, or working, there.

      • Guillotines were created to behead people. That fact cannot be used to make the case that guillotines are socially desired, or that one should not interfere in their intended use. It is difficult to make the case that the American (stemming from the Dutch, and then UK) system of corporations whereby the ONLY goal is to maximize profits is a desirable institution. When one had some countervailing power of unions, the contract negotiated had some sense of reasonableness. One can no longer make that case, with the corporations becoming the parasite that Cecil claims for the employees. While I have a great deal of respect fro Sam Walton, I have none for the Walton heirs, who did not start a business, but became a parasite, claiming entitlement to something they had no part in creating.

        Wealh is creating by joint product, and how that product is distributed depends primarily on the original allocation of wealth, and who one’s parent’s were, not on some effort on the part individuals that those with entitlements fabricate.

        “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” — John Kenneth Galbraith, extrapolating on a Joan Robinson
        assertion made in 1936:

        “One of the main effects (I will not say purposes) of orthodox traditional economics was to fill this want. It was a plan for explaining to the privileged class that their position was morally right and was necessary for the welfare of society.”

        The current distribution of wealth is such that Santa Fe Institute economist Samuel Bowles finds ” Roughly 1 in 4 Americans is employed to keep fellow citizens in line and protect private wealth from would-be Robin Hoods.”


        In a recent article in the Santa reporter, entitled “Born Poor?” Bowles writes:

        “So, much of what Americans tell their children is wrong. It doesn’t really matter how long you go to school or even necessarily how hard you work. The single most important factor to success in America is “one’s choice of parents,”


      • Find it interesting that Greg Mankiw, one of those economists Joan Robinson describes as trying to make a living “explaining to the privileged class that their position was morally right and was necessary for the welfare of society” recently posted on his blog “Defending the One Percent – Click here to read my new essay “Defending the One Percent,” which is forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. http://bit.ly/156325j

        It not only got hammered at the Huffington post [ http://huff.to/10rgDYM ] but at that Citadel of Economic magazines, THE ECONOMIST, that is quite open about being an advocate for free markets.

        They wrote: “The 1 percent needs better defenders.” Indeed. I is getting ever more difficult to mount a defense.
        http://econ.st/12Re03Y If someone finds that defense compelling, I’ll respond.

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