December 2, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
Secaucus, NJ—Hundreds of protestors, including union members and community activists, crossed the Hudson to join in protests with thousands of others across the country to demonstrate against Wal-Mart’s illegal firings and low wages on the busiest shopping day of the year. More than ten people were arrested for civil disobedience. Watch Video of Arrests
Last year union members, fired Wal-Mart workers and community activists demonstrated on Black Friday inside and outside the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Secaucus, NJ, which is about ten miles west of Manhattan. This year the police informed them that they could only march and demonstrate across the street away from the store.
Since last year’s Black Friday strikes, former Wal-Mart workers say the company has been taking retaliatory action against the workers who went on strike.
Mark Powers used to work for Wal-Mart for eight years in Dallas, Texas but was fired for going out on strike. He said he decided to strike because he was tired of working for low wages.
“If I don’t fight, our next generation of kids will not have a future,” said Powers.
Another fired Wal-Mart worker from Miami, Florida, Elaine Rozier, also worked at Wal-Mart for eight years and was fired for going out on strike. She said she participated in the protests at Secaucus to represent many Wal-Mart workers who are too afraid to participate out of fear of being fired.
“I’m here to let Wal-Mart know that I’m standing up for my rights, for my kids, for my grandkids and their kids. I’m tired of not getting living wages and affordable benefits,” said Rozier.
Some of the protestors then sat in the middle of the street before they were told and then arrested by the Secaucus Police Department. One of those arrested said he wasn’t worried about getting arrested because it had to be done.
“Things have to change not just at Wal-Mart but everywhere as far as I’m concerned,” he said. He was then led away by the police.
Rich Whalen, regional director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, participated in the demonstration and said that Wal-Mart has to start changing.
“They can’t continue treating workers the way they are. Retail workers deserve a fair living wage. Wal-Mart is making billions and billions in profit and they need to share that profit with the workers because they make those profits. We’ll continue to be here until Wal-Mart changes its attitude and how it does business,” said Whalen.
Charles Hall, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 108, said he was in Secaucus on Black Friday to support Wal-Mart workers in their struggle to earn a living wage.
“Wal-Mart, as the country’s biggest company, should lead the way and send the example of how workers should be treated. They should be paid well and have good medical and retirement benefits,” said Hall.
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