Shoppers and protesters mingled in the aisles of the Walmart Superstore in Monona Friday morning. Shoppers came in search of Black Friday discount prices; the protesters came to demand higher wages for Walmart workers.
Before taking their protest inside, out of a bitterly cold wind, a group of about 100 protesters from local labor unions and church based anti poverty groups shivered and stamped their feet across the street from Monona Walmart. They held signs in support of better working conditions for Walmart workers. Becky Schigiel of the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice held a sign telling shoppers it would only cost them 42 cents more per Walmart visit to absorb the cost of raising worker wages to 12 dollars an hour.
"Forty-two, I've seen 46 cents but that's the 42 cents per shopping trip, even if we ate the cost," Schigiel said. "The way I look at it, people are going up to the bell ringers and drop in two quarters today to feed the people in poverty. Fifty-cents a trip you could get your Walmart workers out of poverty."
Workers at dozens of Walmart stores in several states including some in Milwaukee and Kenosha staged a walkout. But in Monona, it was the protesters who walked in with their signs and circled the aisles for ten minutes, chanting slogans in support of a living wage for Walmart workers.
Curt Anderson, a retired United Church of Christ minister from Middleton, said "If there are enough protests like this around the country today and other times then Walmart as a corporation will begin to take the concerns of their workers seriously, so that's the real hope."
Walmart issued a news release ahead of the threatened walkouts, claiming their wage and benefit packages were as good as or better than similar retail stores and that only a few employees shared the views of the protesters.