By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bentonville, Ark. – Walmart presented its 2013 fiscal plan to financial analysts here at company headquarters this week while workers protested outside and picketed stores nationwide over inadequate wages and staffing.
The strikes were held at 200 Walmart stores in 12 cities, organizers said, and together with a walkout last week in Los Angeles were the first in the company’s history.
The protesters also threatened to disrupt Walmart’s Black Friday sales with rallies, flash mobs and other non-violent activities.
The events were timed to Walmart’s annual investor conference here where president/CEO Mike Duke outlined a fiscal plan that calls for 125 new big-box Walmart stores; 95 to 115 more neighborhood markets for groceries, pharmaceuticals and sundries; and 12 to 20 more Sam’s Clubs next year.
Walmart will also invest more heavily in its e-commerce infrastructure to build a global technology platform, strengthen its local fulfillment networks, and develop customer applications for mobile and social media, Duke said.
Walmart responded to the protests by threatening legal action for trespassing, Salon reported, while a company spokesman told The Huffington Post that the strikes “are an attempt by the unions to further their own political and financial agendas,” and that the majority of Walmart’s 1.4 million workers are pleased with their jobs.
The protests were organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union under the banner of Making Change At Walmart, and were supported by the National Organization of Women (Now) and other consumer, church and labor groups.
The strikers are demanding a living wage, an end to what they describe as systemic understaffing that undermines store operations, and protection from retaliation by store managers.
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