Black Friday is not starting off well for the giant retailer Wal-Mart. Unhappy workers had been threatening to strike on this most busy of shopping days, and strike they have. There are confirmed reports of workers walking out in at least seven states, reporters are being kicked out of stores, and Twitter is filling up with trending pictures and reports from #walmartstrikers on the front lines. Which doesn't mean everyone supports those "whining" employees, but it does mean this wasn't a bust for labor.

Today's strike, brought to you by the Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (OUR Walmart), comes as the giant retailer's role in American business is increasingly under fire. As has been noted up before, Wal-Mart employees are so underpaid that they are one of the top reasons behind the burgeoning role of food stamps in the US—all while Wal-Mart's CEO makes more money in one hour than nearly all of the chain's employees will earn in a year. Further, the chain has received more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, grants, and land from the government to build its empire. And let's not get started on that whole international bribery issue.

The workers today are striking for a raise of their minimum wage to $13, and for affordable health care, a better work schedule, and overall better working conditions. The action comes as the company's arguably inhumane labor practices are increasingly under fire from workers—even if the company likes to paint the issue differently to the press: "The opinions expressed by this group don’t represent the views of the vast majority of the more than 1.3 million Wal-Mart associates in the U.S," a Wal-Mart rep told Salon earlier this week. "Throughout all of these union-staged events, all of our stores were staffed up and open for business as usual. Likewise, we will be taking care of our customers on Black Friday and are looking forward to helping shoppers get a great start to the holiday shopping season with some great merchandise and our unbeatable prices."

What exactly today's bit of labor unrest will do in the long term remains to be seen—Wal-Mart was built on the backs of unorganized labor after all—but in the meantime there is something impressive about seeing workers and non-workers lined up in solidarity on Black Friday—rather than lined up to buy junk on this most shoppingist of days. And the planned actions for today are just starting. OUR Walmart has also promised strikes in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Maryland, and states including Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota.