Opinion: Let's Support Walmart Workers Striking on Black Friday

As the statistics show, Walmart is the largest private employer in the world, and follows only the US and Chinese armies in its overall workforce. However, it got there the old-fashion way: Relying on the public to help it out.

Walmart wages are so low that employees routinely qualify for food stamps. Their benefits are so meager - and efforts to deny workers' benefits so successful - that many of the staff rely on public healthcare assistance.

If you think that's the only way this company can stay open, think again. The Walton family's wealth equals that of the lower 42 percent of all American households. The only shared sacrifice at Walmart is the sacrifice shared by workers whose situation is bleak, alternatives are slim and right to organize constantly obstructed.

With all that lined up against them, having to work Thanksgiving to participate in Walmart's celebration of excessive consumerism seems like the least of their problems.

But it's this Black Friday where workers will make their most high-profile stand to date. Following the strike of Walmart warehouse employees, retail staff will strike and protest across the country. And they deserve our support.

For one, with a workforce of 1.4 million workers, chances are you know or are related to one of the many employees who deserve something to be more thankful for this holiday. These folks are your family, your community and your neighbors.

Secondly, it benefits all of us to see Walmart workers better compensated. It lessens the load on public assistance, and turns back a race-to-the-bottom mentality that plagues the retail world. If Walmart increases its wages and benefits, other companies will have to do the same, just to compete.

Furthermore, when corporations respect, listen to and engage with workers, we see improvements across society. We see an increase in workplace safety standards, consumer safety and store conditions. We receive better customer service. Weekends are a result of a previous generation of businesses and workers collaborating.

We live in a world of big problems that need collaboration to address: partnerships across industry, across country, between public and private enterprises and with bosses and workers both at the table. We need that kind of collaboration even more than we need cheap prices at big box stores.

So we need to collaborate with the workers as well. Send a message to Walmart that their management needs to meet with workers. Donate to worker relief funds. Don't head to Walmart on Black Friday.

And when you realize which of your family members is affected by low wages and stagnant prospects, support them if they choose to strike - it will make everyone more grateful at Thanksgiving table.