Walmart Black Friday 2012 strike, walkout: Even with protests planned, shoppers line up early

GOODYEAR, AZ - As Black Friday inches closer, one of the nation's largest retailers faces big threats from its employees.

Protests are reportedly planned at 13 Walmart stores across the country, in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.

So far Phoenix has not been mentioned.

In some states, Walmart workers have already walked off the job and union organizers say it's the beginning of around 1,000 protests, strikes and rallies planned leading up to Black Friday.

Workers are calling for better pay and benefits and some are also upset Walmart will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Walmart insists Black Friday will go smoothly.

One Valley shopper we caught up with will gladly give up his holiday to get the deals.

Mike Bernardi is already camping out at a Best Buy store in Goodyear.

He said he hopes to save $1,000 on a TV, Blue Ray Player, X-Box and other electronics.

He is sleeping in a tent and is set for the week with a sleeping bag, snacks, internet and a flat screen TV he bought last Black Friday.

He even plans on frying a turkey on Thanksgiving and sharing it with everyone else in line.

NEXT PAGE -- RESPONSE FROM WALMART

WALMART RESPONSE

We have a great group of associates at Walmart. We'll have more than one million associates working throughout the holiday weekend and they're excited about our Black Friday plans this year. This is the Super Bowl for retailers and we're ready. We've been working on our Black Friday plans for almost a year now and we're prepared to have a great event. We care about our associates and our associates care about providing a great customer experience on Black Friday. We're confident that's what our associates will deliver for customers this year at Walmart.

OurWalmart, the name of the group making claims about the Black Friday activity, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the UFCW. The reality is that there are only a handful of associates, at a handful of stores scattered across the country that are participating in these made for TV events. Most of the numbers of people the UFCW claims at their events aren't even Walmart workers. They are union representatives and other union members. The super majority of our 1.3 million associates are excited about Black Friday and are ready to serve our customers. In fact, many of our associates have urged us to do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts because they don't think it's right that a few associates that are being coerced by the UFCW are being portrayed by the media as representative of what it's like to work at Walmart.

We have hard data that tells a completely different story than what a few associates may think. Consider these facts: We have 250,000 associates that have worked for the company for more than 10 years, we promoted 165,000 hourly associates last year, our turnover rate (37%) is lower than the retail industry average (44%), nearly 75% of our store management teams started out in hourly positions, and 20% of the people we hired last year were rehires--meaning they worked for Walmart, decided to leave and concluded they were getting a better deal at Walmart so they came back. The fact is, our pay and benefits plans are as good or better than our retail competitors, including those that are unionized. If they weren't, we wouldn't be able to hire people and staff our stores. Last year alone, we received 5 million job applications. We also survey our 1.3 million associates every year to gauge their job satisfaction and those numbers have been increasing over the past few years.

Of course we respect the rights of our associates to express their views but if they are scheduled to work, we expect them to show up and do their job. If they don't, depending on the circumstances, there could be consequences. We will take every situation on a case by case basis. If associates repeatedly have unexcused absences, if they purposefully disrupt the store, or create an unsafe working condition for our customers and associates, those issues will be addressed and there are a range of disciplinary actions that will be considered depending on the nature of the misconduct.

The fact is, we do not expect these actions by a very small minority of our associates (less than .0003 percent) at a handful of stores to have any impact on our stores or our customers shopping experience on Black Friday.

 

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