Fox News ran a segment sponsored by Walmart that defended that company from workers who are planning a Black Friday strike.
In an interview with a Walmart spokesperson about the planned strike, Fox News' Stuart Varney did not mention the concerns of the company's workers, instead praising the company for "taking on" unions, asking if they planned to fire striking workers, and plugging the company's charitable efforts following Hurricane Sandy. Following the segment, Fox News ran a banner ad explaining that "this program is brought to you by Walmart," followed by an advertisement for the company's Black Friday promotion.
Bloomberg Businessweek wrote of the wave of strikes leading up to Black Friday:
America's biggest retailer may be in for an unexpectedly painful holiday season. Protesting low wages, spiking health care premiums, and alleged retaliation from management, Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) workers have started to walk off the job this week. First, on Wednesday, about a dozen workers in Wal-Mart's distribution warehouses in Southern California walked out, followed the next day by 30 more from six stores in the Seattle area.
The workers, who are part of a union-backed employee coalition called Making Change at Wal-Mart, say this is the beginning of a wave of protests and strikes leading up to next week's Black Friday. A thousand store protests are planned in Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C., the group says.
Workers are reportedly particularly angered that Walmart will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, part of a general move by large retailers to extend their Black Friday hours. Indeed, the advertisement that followed the Fox News segment labeled the store "the first and only place to go this Black Friday."
Walmart has responded to the protests by filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the strikes are illegally being led by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
At no point in the November 19 segment on Fox's Your World did Varney mention the purpose of the strikes, instead asking only the following questions of guest David Tovar, the company's vice president of communications:
- "David, you've taken on the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, I believe. You've filed this complaint against them. Is that enough to stop any walkout the day after Thanksgiving? Our viewers, maybe some Walmart shoppers, they want to know, are they gonna hit these roadblocks?"
- "Now you've filed a complaint against the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. You said 'hey, stop messing around with our business.' Can you sue them? Can you take them for any money if your complaint is valid?"
- "Yeah, David, I got it. I know you're out there doing your best for Walmart. But look, can you stop these protests? Will this complaint, this labor complaint, will it stop the protests?"
- "David, I want to know how sharp-edged you're going to be. You've got a fight on your hands. I want to know how rough Walmart's gonna be. For example, if some of your workers walk out, walk off the job on Black Friday, will you fire them?"
- "Would you agree with me that you're in for four tough years, because this administration is no friend to Walmart?"
- "One last one: the storm, Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast area, New York in particular. You're not allowed to do business in New York City and yet, I believe, you were handing out a lot of stuff to the victims of Sandy. Is that correct?"