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Wal-Mart's Black Friday Strikes: Are the Workers Already Winning?

Customers shop during Black Friday promotions at a Wal-Mart store in Bentonville, Arkansas
Customers shop during Black Friday promotions at a Wal-Mart store in Bentonville, ArkansasPhotograph by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision/AP Photo

Wal-Mart Stores workers and activists have a new holiday tradition: On the busiest shopping day of the year, they stage protests against the biggest retailer in the country. For the past two years, OUR Walmart, a union-backed group of employees, has used Black Friday in particular as a time to call for higher wages, more consistent full-time work, and respect on the job. Wal-Mart, which employs more people than any other U.S. company, argues that the protests and walkouts are mere media spectacles involving a few protesters who don’t speak for most of its 1.3 million workers.

Yet in some ways, Wal-Mart has improved its treatment of employees over the past two years. Just don’t expect the company to credit the protesters.