Why Are Walmart Workers Walking Out?

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), the world’s largest private employer, could be in trouble. Salon is reporting that for the first time in the company’s history, workers are going on strike.

The action is happening in Illinois and southern California, where workers are protesting poor working conditions, mistreatment by management, and low pay, including sometimes not being paid for hours worked. A rally is planned for October 4 at a Pico Rivera, California, store.

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At the end of September, employees walked out of a Walmart distribution warehouse in Elwood, Illinois, after filing a lawsuit related to the working conditions. The distribution center is part of a massive hub which also serves retailers like Home Depot (NYSE:HD).

Unions have been the subject of a lot of attention recently. The Canadian Auto Workers union was recently involved in long negotiations with Ford (NYSE:F) and General Motors (NYSE:GM) that have been resolved with some success, and their tenacity may have helped spur neglected Walmart employees to action.

This strike comes just before Walmart’s Analyst Day on October 10. It’s unclear whether the strike and walkout will cause a prolonged disruption at Walmart stores and warehouses, or if the actions are temporary.

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