For Immediate Release
Walmart Workers, Supporters Plan for Largest Mobilization Since Black Friday
Thursday: Thousands in Cities Nationwide Plan to Protest Walmart
WASHINGTON - As calls to rebuild the economy with better jobs reverberate across the country, Walmart workers and their supporters today announced the largest mobilization since Black Friday, set for Thursday, September 5. The announcement comes as Walmart has failed to meet a Labor Day deadline to reinstate illegally fired and disciplined workers, publicly commit to improve jobs and end the company’s aggressive violations of workers’ rights. Thousands of workers and their supporters plan to protest on Thursday in over a dozen cities across the country.
“Walmart, we cannot wait any longer for you to do the right thing for American workers. Our jobs should not be at risk when we speak out about improvements that would help our families and Walmart customers,” said a Cindy Murray a Walmart worker who was recently arrested for protesting at Walmart’s Washington, DC offices. Murray has worked at Walmart for 13 years. “Walmart employees like me are not making enough to support our families even though we work at the country’s largest company.”
Protests are being planned in the following cities:
Baton Rouge, LA
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Economists, labor market experts and others have been increasingly voicing concern about the growing income inequality and its impact on the economy. Walmart, the largest company on the Fortune 500 list, made $16 billion in profit last year, and the majority of owners of the company, the Waltons, have the combined wealth of nearly half of American families. Meanwhile, many Walmart workers continue to earn on average poverty wages of $8.81 an hour, despite misleading claims from Walmart that wages are higher. A Congressional report released earlier this year calculates the Walmart workforce reliance on public assistance including food stamps, healthcare and other needs is estimated to utilize $900,000 per year of taxpayer funds at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores.
“As the nation’s largest employer, Walmart and the Walton family should be raising standards, not lowering them. To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Walmart should share its prosperity with workers and publicly commit to paying workers $25,000 a year for full time work. If Walmart workers earned living wages the entire economy would benefit.”
A report from the national public policy center Demos shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would even help the store's bottom line, as well as have an impact on individual families and the larger economy. A wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.
Rather than providing good jobs that American workers need and deserve, Walmart is trying to silence workers who are standing up with their co-workers to live better and spending its time and money trying to deny workers a decent day’s pay. But ongoing labor mismanagement concerns, including Walmart's inaction on ending illegal retaliation, improving jobs at stores and putting meaningful protections in place at its suppliers, have contributed to record-levels of votes against Walmart Board of Directors and even shareholder divestment this year.
“Walmart cannot silence our concerns,” said Brandon Garrett a former Walmart worker who was illegally fired after going to Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting. “Our fight to get Walmart to publicly commit to providing better jobs is not just about improving the lives of our families. It’s about improving jobs for all American workers and for strengthening the economy for all of us.”
Since June, Walmart has illegally disciplined nearly 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders. More than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Walmart. Workers in California recently announced that, after an investigation, the NLRB regional office found that Walmart committed 11 violations of national labor law.
Both Murray and Garrett are members of the growing national organization OUR Walmart. OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, formed just two years ago, when 100 Walmart associates came together to voice their concerns about the company retaliating against those who speak out for better working conditions. With thousands of members across the country, the group organized the first strikes in company history last year and helped bring more than 30,000 supporters to protest at stores on Black Friday in 2012.
Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.