Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yet another reason to avoid Walmart

Have you heard about the Walmart workers’ strike this Friday?  I just signed a “statement of solidarity” in support of the workers, so I won’t be shopping there the day after Thanksgiving. 

…Actually, there’s no chance I’d be shopping at Walmart this Friday anyway.  First off, I’m working on Friday.  Secondly, Walmart stores are kind of scarce in Chicago and there isn’t one anywhere near me.  Third, the whole concept of Black Friday—the greed, the mobs, the rampant consumerism—is just icky.

And, fourth, I’m not too fond of Walmart anyway.  Even though it’s been around practically forever now, I’m still mad at them for running out so many mom and pop stores and decimating small-town main streets everywhere.  Plus, it’s a depressing place.  Whenever I happen to be in one, I can’t help feeling I’m in some bizarro hospital or mental institution.  Half the people look sickly and, invariably, someone will be walking around in pajamas.  I always feel the urge to rush out of there before I catch what they have.

I sound like such a snob, don’t I?  The truth is, I end up at Walmart for the same reason everyone else.  The prices are relatively cheap (they have my favorite, and pricey, mouthwash for the lowest price I’ve found), and oftentimes, they’re the only choice around.  I’m usually there when I’m visiting my folks, and it’s the most convenient place to go get whatever I happen to need.  Damn.

Therefore, since Walmart isn’t going away, the least they can do is be fair to their workers.  (Those poor people have to be in that vast, airless, box for hours on end.) Here's the background on the strike, according to Ultraviolet:

“In October, 70 Walmart workers walked off the job, the first strike of Walmart workers in the company's 50 year history. They walked after facing retaliation--threats, suspensions, and firings--for complaints about rock-bottom wages and poor working conditions. But despite having no union and no protections, these brave workers took action.  So on Black Friday, organizers are taking the strike nationwide--to thousands of stores and the nearly one million women who work for Walmart in the U.S. An estimated 70% of Walmart's hourly workforce is women!” 

Well, even though my boycott pledge may be a little empty, I still stand with the workers.  And just maybe I’ll try harder to avoid Walmart next time I think I need something they have—at least until they treat their employees right.  If you’d like, you can sign the solidarity statement too.   


Deb said...

thanks for posting the link to the solidarity statement. I signed it. i didn't tell them this (because it would take away from the fact that I'm not shopping at walmart this friday), but i NEVER shop at walmart. your description of the mental hospital made me laugh (although it's really not funny!). yes, there is a creepy suffocating feeling in there. did you ever read Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich the journalist who lived a year working low wage jobs? i'm pretty sure she worked at walmart for 3 months while living in a a cheap hotel. great book. miserable experience (for her).

Jennifer said...

Oh, yeah, I did read Nickel and Dimed a while ago. I should check it out again; I remember it was pretty eye-opening. ...I'm not sure the Walmart company felt anything from the strike on Black Friday, but I'm glad we signed the statement anyway. :)