MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ahead of Black Friday, workers at Brookdale Shopping Center’s Walmart walked off the job Monday with the support of dozens of other retail workforce activists.
Over the past year, protests against the world’s largest private employer have escalated, with some employees threatening strikes on Black Friday. The protest mirrors many rallies happening at stores across the country during this busy holiday shopping season.
The group protesting, OurWalmart, is a network of Walmart employees affiliated with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. The group is asking for better pay and more full-time positions, among other things.
Protestors told WCCO-TV they don’t want to quit by walking off the job. They said they just want to make a statement without fear of retaliation.
Andrea Williams is among three employees who walked off the job. She’s hoping some political support and the thousands of Walmart employees speaking up across the nation will make their voices heard.
“Nothing’s going to change if no one speaks out,” Williams said.
Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, joined the protest.
“This is a national problem of low wages. You guys being brave and courageous will help us get that change,” Ellison.
The local protestors are a part of a national organization supporting employees called Our Walmart.
The group is asking for the more than 1.3 million Walmart employees to have more opportunities for full- time positions and that employees be paid at least $13 an hour.
“I’m a full-time employee. I go to school and I make $8.40 an hour,” Williams said.
Already struggling, Williams says she fears retaliation if and when she comes back to work.
Unwelcomed by store management, the group was eventually asked to leave store property. But the protest doesn’t end here for Andrea and her coworkers.
“We can’t afford to pay nothing because of low wages, even if you’re full-time, bringing in less than $600 every two weeks,” Williams said.
When asked for a comment, a Walmart representative said customers shouldn’t worry this won’t impact Black Friday sales and accessibility. The representative also said they have an open-door policy where people can express concerns within the company and their average pay for full-time hourly associate is already $12.83 an hour.