Archive

ShareThis Page
Vanaski: Protesters won’t be thanking Wal-Mart | TribLIVE.com
News

Vanaski: Protesters won’t be thanking Wal-Mart

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 27, 2014 12:01 a.m

Elaine Kuhar has plans for the day after Thanksgiving. And you’d better believe it involves Wal-Mart.

But she won’t be competing for that last “Frozen” Princess Elsa doll. She’ll be outside the Wal-Mart in North Fayette, protesting the store’s treatment of its workers.

Kuhar, who is hoping for about 100 people to join her on Black Friday, is part of a national effort to protest a major retail chain on what is likely the busiest shopping day of the year. It might not sound like the best idea to get in the way of a shopper stampede, but on the other hand, what better way to get out the message?

Kuhar, an organizer for OURWalmart who lives in Indiana, Pa., told me the group started a few years ago to end what it calls retaliation against workers who complain about working conditions and to secure a $15 hourly minimum wage.

“We want to affect change for the service industry,” Kuhar, who has never worked at Wal-Mart, told me. “It’s not just about money — it’s about respect and treatment.”

Unlike the shopping hours for most retail stores, this protest is to start at a more reasonable time of about 11 a.m. Demonstrators plan to use social media to mobilize.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for Wal-Mart, said this is the third year of Black Friday protests for this group, and usually turnout is not as advertised. One key set of people who often don’t take part, he said, are Wal-Mart employees.

“They understand they’ve got a pretty good job at Wal-Mart,” Lundberg said, adding that there is plenty of opportunity for advancement.

Unfair labor practice complaints have been filed against the retail chain, he said, but the National Labor Relations Board has never ruled that Wal-Mart violated rules regarding retaliation against employees.

Kuhar said it’s not fair that executives of large retail companies enjoy big yearly pay raises while many workers struggle. However, critics of such so-called “minimum living wage” protests question how much retailers can afford to pay cashiers, stockers and other personnel and stay in business.

No matter where you stand on the dispute, it’s one that could be noticeable at Wal-Mart stores on Thursday and on Black Friday. Kuhar said informational protesters won’t block doors but hope “shoppers will at least listen to us.”

That Wal-Mart employees have to work on Thanksgiving is a sticking point with some employees, Kuhar said. But she acknowledged that other employees appreciate the extra holiday work money.

“Me personally, I would say it is unnecessary to open,” she said.

She probably shouldn’t say that too loud in front of any large crowds Friday.

Nafari Vanaski is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, nvanaski@tribweb.com or on Twitter @NafariTrib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.