Celebrating the Holidays with Protests

by Rachel Long
assistant opinions editor

I love the smell of a good sale in the morning—

But when that sale is combined with the mistreatment of store employees and the possibility of my own death via trampling, the smell goes a little stale.

Black Friday has become infamous for the hordes of people who come out to take advantage of the day’s notoriously low sale prices. This year, though, many Walmart employees and supporters celebrated Black Friday by protesting outside of more than 2,000 Walmart stores. The protestors are calling for the Walmart Corporation to increase its minimum wage to $15. An organization called OUR Walmart is helping spearhead the campaign to help improve work conditions in all Walmarts, and is endorsing these protests.

According to OUR Walmart’s website, in June 2011, nearly 100 Walmart Associates representing thousands of OUR Walmart members from across the United States went to the Walmart Home Office in Bentonville, Ark., and presented a “to Walmart executive management. This declaration says, in part, that “OUR Walmart’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards.” The organization does not claim to be a representative or liaison between Walmart employees and employers.

These protestors are fighting against unfair treatment at one of the largest and wealthiest corporations in America, as well as fighting against the violence that is often invoked in the name of Black Friday. They are demanding protection from the dangers that come with working on this day for employees. I think these protests are perhaps turning the holiday season back into something that more closely resembles the original meaning, albeit in a roundabout way. If the holiday season is supposed to be a time to be thankful and kind, then demanding fair treatment from a corporation like Walmart is, I think, a step in the right direction.

I think as a whole our country is pretty much over the “true meaning of Christmas” spiel, but I don’t think we have moved past basic human decency. Supporting people who just want to be treated fairly in their workplaces seems like a good way to show that, even if the holiday season doesn’t give us the warm fuzzies, we all still want to treat each other kindly.