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Anatomy of the Walmart Strike: Walking Out, One Day at a Time

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In the lead-up to Black Friday, Walmart workers - supported by a number of unions - have organized a series of work stoppages to protest low wages and unfair working conditions. Here is an inside account of a day in the life of the strike.

On past Black Fridays, the nation's annual post-Thanksgiving shopping celebration, Walmart stores have seen such a crush of shoppers that people have been trampled trying to get through the doors. On this coming Black Friday, however, shoppers are more likely to see protesting workers.

People have been criticizing the chain's low wages and unfair competition with local businesses for years. But for a long time the company has been able to keep its workers from joining the critics. Where it could, Walmart has tried to give itself a paternalistic, we're-all-one-big-family face. Where that hasn't worked, it's resorted to the age-old tactics of firings and fear.

But Walmart workers are waking up. Supported by a number of unions, they've organized a series of work stoppages, the latest and most extensive of which will take place on Black Friday. They call their organization OURWalmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart).

Strikes at Walmart stores are usually short walkouts by groups of mostly-young people, propelled by pent-up anger at abuse by managers and wages so low no one can really live on them. My heart goes out to these workers. I, too, was fired more than once for trying to organize a union where I worked. I remember how it felt to be an open activist in a plant where the company made no secret of its hatred for what we wanted - a union.

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