Low-wage workers announce Black Friday Week of Action

Carrying a banner that read "End Poverty Wages in Minnesota," demonstrators march past the Midway Walmart's entrance in St. Paul on Black Friday.

Carrying a banner that read “End Poverty Wages in Minnesota,” demonstrators marched past the Midway Walmart’s entrance in St. Paul on Black Friday last year.

As the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear, workers who stock Walmart’s shelves, serve McDonald’s hamburgers and clean big-box stores are planning a week of action in the Twin Cities to draw attention to the low wages and poor conditions plaguing their industries.

The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the highest-profile shopping day of the year, with shoppers lining up overnight to take advantage of “doorbuster” deals at big-box stores.

But in recent years, Black Friday has also become a rallying point for retail workers, joining together in groups like OUR Walmart and CTUL, as well as their supporters in the community. Last year, a demonstration in St. Paul drew 1,000 people and resulted in the arrests of 26 activists engaging in civil disobedience.

This year, organizers locally are framing the Week of Action as a “fight to live, not just survive.”

According to a recently published report by the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesotans who live in areas with the highest median household income live, on average, eight years longer than Minnesotans living in areas with the lowest median household incomes.

“This holiday season, low-wage workers from across the state of Minnesota are fighting to take back the years that companies are stealing off working families’ lives,” organizers said in an announcement of the Week of Action.

CTUL-final-logo1Planned events include:

  • “Strike for Our Lives,” 6-9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 28, The Quarry, 1520 New Brighton Blvd., Minneapolis.

Retail Janitors with CTUL, a low-wage worker center based in the Twin Cities, announced plans last week to strike on Black Friday.

Under the terms of a Responsible Contractor Policy the group reached with Target earlier this year, retail janitors are to enter into a dialogue with area cleaning contractors aimed at improving standards in the industry. Since then, the two companies that clean Target stores and a third company that cleans other stores in the Twin Cities have all opened dialogue with CTUL, but without making any meaningful achievements.

  • “March for Our Lives,” 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 28, Midway Walmart, University Ave. & N. Griggs St., St. Paul.

In addition to showing support for striking members of OUR Walmart, who are demanding $15 per hour, the march will build momentum behind calls for legislation requiring employers to offer paid sick days to their employees.

[Click here to add your name to a petition calling on Walmart to commit to $15 per hour and full-time schedules for workers who want one.]

  • Fast-food action, 6 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis.

Fast food workers who are organizing with CTUL will join home health care workers, members of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, to continue the “Fight for $15.”

CTUL will announce other actions as details are finalized online. Also, the organization is accepting donations to the Retail Janitor Strike Fund.

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