Sunday May 16, 2021
| Last update: Sunday at 4:56 PM

Jacksonville workers picket Walmart on Black Friday

By staff |
December 3, 2013
Read more articles in
Jacksonville picket at Walmart on Black Friday
Jacksonville picket at Walmart on Black Friday (Fight Back! News/staff)

Jacksonville, FL - By Florida standards, the 30-degree morning on Black Friday, Nov. 29 was a chilly day, but that could not stop 15 local workers from protesting at a Walmart Supercenter.

Organizing as a part of the nationwide Black Friday protests of Walmart stores called by OUR Walmart, the Jacksonville protest drew a small, energetic crowd outside the store on the busiest shopping day of the year. Chanting and carrying colorful signs, the protesters demanded full-time jobs for Walmart workers, better pay, health care and an end to Walmart's harassment of union organizers.

"I'm a low-wage, part-time warehouse worker, so I have a lot in common with Walmart workers," said Dave Schneider, one of the protesters and a member of Teamsters Local 512 in Jacksonville. "The main difference is that I have a union that protects me from supervisor harassment, guarantees me affordable health insurance and works to raise my wages. Every low-wage worker in the country, especially our sisters and brothers at Walmart, deserve the same."

The crowd chanted, "Full-time jobs! Not part-time poverty!" and "Union-busting is a crime!" The latter chant refers to an ongoing investigation by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of Walmart's harassment of workers who try to organize unions. For the first time in history, the NLRB has brought charges against Walmart management. The charges say that Walmart illegally intimidated and fired several of their workers who sought to organize a union. In the face of mounting pressure from workers across the country and these NLRB charges, long-time Walmart CEO Mike Duke resigned.

Marina Djordjevic, a lead organizer of the event, read a list of grievances from a letter to Walmart. Those gathered all signed the letter together and plan to deliver it to Walmart. Walmart workers want higher wages and affordable healthcare. Some Walmart workers are forced onto social welfare programs like food stamps and Medicaid while the company makes big profits. Despite making more than $17 billion in profits last year, Walmart seldom pays its workers more than $12 per hour. In Florida alone, a study by the Department of Children and Families found that more than 9000 of the state's food stamp recipients were Walmart workers, costing taxpayers approximately $2.6 million to subsidize the low wages paid by the corporate retailer.

Another demand was that Walmart stop purchasing from brutal and exploitative sweatshops in other countries.

The protest continued for more than three hours. As customers drove by the Walmart parking lot, the protesters received many honks and signs of support. Several Walmart workers and Jacksonville union members pulled over in their cars to talk with the protesters about their demands.

Marina Djordjevic said of the protest, “The few who stood in solidarity with the Walmart workers today encourage other workers to stand up and fight against the systematic oppression they face daily. It takes a spark to ignite a fire!”

Protesters voiced their plans to continue work with Walmart workers in Jacksonville and build the city's labor movement.