In the early 1990s, some the progressive-minded yet fun-loving folks at Adbusters magazine promoted the idea of a Buy Nothing Day -- a "holiday" that would condemn consumerism, not involve any monetary transactions, and definitely include some mischievous but harmless festivities.
The perfect day to celebrate was, of course, Black Friday, when everyone else would be frantically tripping over one another for deals and stressed out waiting in hellish lines. The founders of Buy Nothing Day suggested merrymaking by setting up with scissors outside of stores and offering to help people cut up their credit cards or by taking up space in Walmart by pushing empty carts through the aisles.
Fast-forward a decade, and the Adbusters people latched on to another idea -- one that actually got a lot more traction in the media: a little thing called Occupy Wall Street. That's when people stopped being polite and started getting real.
Occupy Wall Street has largely fractured and dissolved, but splinter groups have taken up the old Buy Nothing Day cause and put it to use in support of a very serious issue: supporting Walmart workers who are striking.
Employees of a warehouse in California that housed goods for Walmart went on strike yesterday to protest horrible wages and poor treatment. Workers say they are hired at just above minimum wage and promised full-time gigs with benefits only to be strung along indefinitely. Other workers at Walmart facilities have complained of faulty equipment. The company has faced discrimination and wage lawsuits. A big, national class-action lawsuit by a group of women was shot down by the Supreme Court in October but is being pursued in California.
Walmart is the largest private employer in the nation. In 2011, it raked in $419 billion in revenue and had a 24.7 percent profit margin.
Now, various groups including Our Walmart, Occupy Marines, and the Corporate Action Network are calling for workers to strike and for others to support them through a boycott. If workers heed the call for action, Walmart's entire chain could be disrupted, from warehouse workers to floor associates.
The Corporate Action Network offers a website with a toolkit for protesters -- it includes printable fliers to spread the word about the action, directions on how to hold a prayer vigil for workers, and suggestions for signs and Christmas carols ("I Saw Walmart Kicking Santa Claus" and, to the tune of "Jingle Bells": "Oh, Walmart sells, Walmart sells/Workers down a hole/We work hard to move their stuff/For pay in the toilet bowl.")
CAN lists 20 Walmarts around the country where protests are scheduled, including one at the WalMart at US1 and Gulfstream Boulevard in Boynton Beach. At presstime, a local organizer had not responded to a request for comment.
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