Walmart workers plan biggest-ever Black Friday mobilization

A map of Black Friday protests planned at Walmarts nationwide. (Map from OUR Walmart's Black Friday website.)

Walmart workers and their supporters are preparing for their third and biggest-ever Black Friday mobilization, with strikes and protests planned at stores in cities nationwide and across the South.

Workers are calling on the Arkansas-based retail giant to stop retaliating against those who speak out for better pay and working conditions. Employees affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers-backed OUR Walmart campaign have been calling on the company to pay them at least $15 an hour and to give them consistent, full-time hours.

OUR Walmart reports that workers in six states including Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia have submitted formal strike notices ahead of Black Friday. The group says it expects workers in four other states, Texas among them, to do likewise.

The Walton family that owns Walmart is the richest in the United States with nearly $150 billion in wealth, while the company -- the world's largest private employer -- takes in $16 billion in annual profits. But most U.S. Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year, which is just above the federal poverty level for a family of four.

Some Walmart workers are forced to turn to help from in-store food drives for needy employees. Others rely on public assistance, at an annual cost to taxpayers of $6.2 billion.

Walmart recently launched a program called Access to Open Shifts that helps part-time workers find available slots in order to boost their hours. However, the company has denied that this was a response to the protests.

For information on Walmart Black Friday actions, click here.