By DAVID CORREIA
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.