Walmart employees in 15 cities went on strike set to demand better pay and working conditions from country’s largest private employer.
Thousands of Walmart employees planned to strike Thursday in cities across the United States, demanding better pay and to protest the firing of workers who previously demonstrated against the company, which, with 1.3 million workers, is the largest private employer in the country.
The strike comes just one week after fast-food workers staged walk-outs at fast-food restaurants in 60 U.S. cities to call for hourly pay of $15 instead of minimum wage, signaling a trend of worker unrest at non-union companies. According to strike organizers, many Walmart workers earn the minimum wage, which varies from state to state but typically hovers near $7 to $8 per hour.
Thursday’s action is expected to be the largest strike since Black Friday of 2012 which spanned at least nine cities, organizers say.
According to a press release from the Organization United for Respect WalMart (OUR Walmart) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which back the strike, the workers are seeking a “wage floor” of $25,000 per year.
Strike organizers also charge that the company benefits from federal social-welfare programs by paying wages too low for workers to live on or by not providing health insurance, forcing employees to sign up for food stamps or Medicaid.