Black Friday Walmart protest a dud
The United Food and Commercial Workers union invested its reputation and clout in getting a lot of Walmart employees to walk off the job on Black Friday.
They failed miserably:
Nine people were arrested near a Walmart store in California on Friday as part of national protests for the rights of hourly workers, even as the world's largest retailer enjoyed what it said was its best ever start to the holiday shopping rush.
Hundreds of protesters, including some Walmart workers who skipped their shifts on the retail industry's busiest day, spoke, chanted and sang outside of Walmart stores around the United States, making pleas for higher wages and better healthcare for Walmart hourly workers.
OUR Walmart, an organization backed by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, said it counted 1,000 protests in 46 U.S. states, including strikes in 100 cities - figures that Walmart said were "grossly exaggerated."
There was no evidence that such activity disrupted what appeared to be a strong start for Wal-Mart Stores Inc to the crucial holiday shopping season.
Other demonstrations were smaller and less disruptive. At a Walmart on Chicago's South side, just one employee from the store's nearly 500 staff took part in the demonstration, according to Walmart. There, four busloads of protesters marched outside and were not stopped by police or security guards.
Many of the demonstrators were not Walmart workers, but were supporters such as Candice Justice, a retired teacher who stood with dozens of others in Chicago on Friday morning.
Walmart said it was aware of a few dozen protests on Friday, and said the number of workers that missed scheduled shifts was "more than 60 percent less than Black Friday last year."
Considering the fact that most demonstrators were bused in and paid to be there, it would seem that the UFCW efforts to make a big splash on Black Friday went for nothing.
There's also a question of how much sympathy for the cause was generated when protestors annoyed shoppers on the busiest traffic day of the year. Some shoppers might feel for the workers, but the majority appear to be angry at the protestors.
There's a right place and time for everything. For the union, this wasn't it.