Walmart workers strike on Black Friday

About 500 Walmart workers and their supporters rallied Friday outside of a store in Milpitas during one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year to demand a $15 per hour wage and predictable schedules from their employer.

The Milpitas protest joined thousands of Walmart workers at 1,600 stores nationwide where workers went on strike to show the company they will not be silenced, despite the retaliation some employees say they receive when they go on strike.

Beth Trimarco, a spokeswoman for the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, said:

“We’re building a movement.”

The alliance advocates for reducing or eliminating barriers to employment for people in marginalized communities and for jobs that would allow a family to sustain itself. The spirit among the striking employees and their supporters was joyful, strident and peaceful, Trimarco said

. Fremont Walmart employee Victoria Noguda said she went on strike today to stand up for herself and employees who are afraid of standing up to the big box behemoth because of the specter of retaliation, she said.

Officials at the store where she works retaliated against her recently by offering her only one day of work during the Thanksgiving week, Noguda said. After approaching a store manager, she received 40 hours, but she got the impression the initial offer was a warning from the company.

Noguda said she started making $11 per hour this year, but would like Walmart to give her a more predictable schedule or transfer her to a store in San Jose, where she lives:

“My schedule is very unpredictable. …¬†It’s never the same number of hours.”

A more predictable schedule would give her an opportunity to find better-paying employment, she said, and a transfer would reduce her expenses. Currently, one paycheck pays for food and the $350 in gas she spends each month to travel to and from work, Noguda said.

Walmart spokesman Brooke Buchanan questioned the validity of the protests and said fewer Walmart employees called out absent on Black Friday than the company sees on a typical day.

Buchanan said that means employees are “excited” to be at work at this time of year. “Perception is never a reality with labor unions,” Buchanan said:

“The crowds are mostly made up of paid union demonstrators, and they do not represent our 1.3 million associates who do work for Walmart in the U.S.”

Walmart served 22 million customers today, a company official said. In fiscal year 2014, Walmart made about $16 billion in consolidated net income, according to a consolidated income statement that has not been audited.

A consolidated statement includes the financial results of the parent company combined with one or more of its subsidiaries. With that amount of profit, Trimarco said, Walmart can pay $15 per hour to its workers. “How ’bout the basics for workers?” she asked.

The Anti Police-Terrorism Project is also organizing a strike at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Walmart at 8400 Edgewater Drive in Oakland.