D.C. Walmart stores to get first protests on Black Friday

WASHINGTON — Before the new Walmart locations debut in D.C., the big box retailer will face its first protests from workers denouncing low wages and poor work standards.

“Join Walmart workers around the country on Black Friday (Nov. 29th), the biggest shopping day of the year, as they stand up to Walmart and call for an end to retaliation against those who bravely speak out and a real wage of $25,000/yr,” Organization United for Respect at Walmart (or OUR Walmart) says in a news release.

People will gather at 1,500 Walmart stores throughout the country, including the sites of both D.C. locations, which are slated to open Dec. 4.

The stores are the first of as many as six that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. hopes to build in Washington. The company has threatened to abandon plans for the additional stores if the city enacted a law that would have required large retailers to pay their employees a “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour. Mayor Vincent Gray vetoed the bill, calling it a “job killer.”

Wal-Mart says it’ll be hiring about 300 people at each new store. The company says it received more than 23,000 applications.

The first stores to open are located near Union Station and in the Brightwood neighborhood.

“We will be providing D.C. residents with convenient access to fresh food and affordable merchandise right in time for the holiday season. This is the busiest time of year for Walmart, and our focus is on our customers and making sure that they have the best holiday ever. And we couldn’t do that without the hard work of our associates across the country,” Wal-Mart said in a emailed statement to WTOP.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board general counsel issued a decision that it will prosecute Wal-Mart for its alleged violation of workers’ rights. More than 117 workers were fired, some of whom participated in strikes against the retailer last June.

“We believe this is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified,” Wal- Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told The Associated Press. “The fact is we provide good jobs and unparalleled opportunities for our associates.”

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