A member of Occupy Seattle is coordinating a statewide protest against Wal-Mart slated for Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
Wal-Mart’s sins are many, says organizer Neal Bernstein, who is recovering from a case of the flu he developed while demonstrating at Seattle’s Westlake Center and City Hall over the last few weeks. The company, which has more than 2 million employees and counts profits in the double-digit billions year after year, is notorious for paying low wages, skimping on benefits, demanding long shifts and forcing local stores out of business.
A 2004 report found that Wal-Mart sucks $1.5 billion from American taxpayers’ pockets annually to cover the cost of its workers’ needs for health care, food stamps and housing. Earlier this year, it escaped a class-action lawsuit raised by 1.5 million of its female workers who alleged they were the victims of sexual discrimination.
“I think they’re a really good example of everything that’s wrong with corporate America,” Bernstein told me over the telephone.
Bernstein plans to spend the next month as a liaison between female, minority, student and worker advocacy groups and willing protesters, and wants to see the Black Friday demonstrations formed and led by people from within affected communities. His approach to protest organization mirrors that found everywhere in the occupy movement: non-centralized, grass-roots and community based.
See the Facebook page for Bernstein’s event here and check out a critical feature-length documentary called “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price,” below. —Alexander Reed Kelly