As many Americans nosh on Thanksgiving leftovers and wonder how much weight they’ve gained, some Walmart workers will be feeling anything but stuffed on Black Friday. More than 200 workers from at least 15 stores will have spent days fasting—up to 15 days—in protest of low wages, according to labor rights advocate group Our Walmart.
“As hard as Walmart workers work, at the end of the day we can’t afford to feed our families,” Cindy Murray, a Walmart worker in the Washington, D.C., area and founding member of Our Walmart, told TakePart. “We need $15 an hour; it’s not just something we want.”
Murray, who works 32 hours a week, has been an employee of the company for 16 years. More than 1,400 other workers have signed a petition in support of the fast, and some of them are also participating, according to Murray. She has been fasting during the day since Nov. 13, when it began, though she sometimes eats at night. Other workers are participating for a few days at a time, according to what their health allows.
On Black Friday, the fast will culminate in a protest at several Walmart stores. Murray will hand a letter to her manager and ask that it be passed on to the home office, informing it of the fast and reminding the company’s executives why its workers need higher wages.
While trying to recruit other workers to join the fast, Murray recalled speaking to one woman, a single parent, who gave her a funny look when she explained that she just had to fast during the day to participate.
“She told me she already fasted every day,” Murray said. “That’s the only way she could afford to feed her kids. And I know she’s not the only one.”
In February, Walmart announced it would raise its hourly wage to $9 an hour in April and to at least $10 by February 2016. That increase was a win for groups like Our Walmart, and it signified to Murray that the fight for $15 could be won.
While “Fight for $15” has become synonymous with fast-food workers’ movement for higher wages, Murray says the “Fast for $15” is about solidarity between low-wage workers in all industries. In the past, the 59-year-old has protested with workers from McDonald’s and Amazon on her days off.
“It’s not just about Walmart workers. It’s about laborers all over,” Murray said. “This is a time in our country where we all together need to stand up and say we’re standing together.”