It’s one of the busiest shopping days of the year in the United States. Black Friday, as it is known, is the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, but it has also become an occasion for workers seeking higher pay to hold demonstrations at the more than 1,000 stores run by Walmart, the world’s largest retailer.
Many Walmart workers say that despite gross profits of $130 billion this year, the company pays even full-time employees so little they need government subsidies to survive.
In Washington DC, we spoke to Ned Maesel, one of the employees who stayed away from work as part of the protests across the country.
Al Jazeera : What do you think that union organising would mean for the store and yourself?
Ned Maesal : This is an unfair labour practice because they’ve been harassing and intimidating us when we speak out. We speak out because we need better wages and better working conditions.
This is important for all workers in America because if we can increase the wages at Walmart, we can increase them everywhere. And we need $15 an hour and those of us who are on full-time need full-time wages.
We need respect, [to be] treated with respect and dignity by management, and we need respect for pregnant workers.
That’s why we’re out here and that’s what our organisation means.
Al Jazeera : Do you have full-time work?
Ned : I personally get 40 hour a week, yes, but too many workers, especially sales associates and cashiers, do not get fulltime.
Al Jazeera : What does that mean?
Ned : That means you can’t pay the rent. I personally am behind on my rent even though I work 40 hours a week, can’t get my car fixed. I wait for shut-off notices from my utilities before I can pay them and so we need decent wages.