Walmart workers at various stores around the country are on strike today, protesting poor working conditions and alleged retaliation for their attempts to organize.
The one-day strike was expected to culminate in a mass rally outside a store in Pico Rivera, Calif., this afternoon.
OUR Walmart, a coalition of Walmart workers and other sympathizers, organized the protest.
According to Salon.com, Pico Rivera Wal-Mart employee Evelin Cruz said “I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m scared … But I think the time has come, so they take notice that these associates are tired of all the issues in the stores, all the management retaliating against you.” Rivera, a department manager, said her store is chronically understaffed: “They expect the work to be done, without having the people to do the job.”
According to a release from the group, although Walmart's more than 4,000 stores employ 1.4 million people in the United States, "For too many of us, the economy Walmart helped create isn't working—but we have the power to change it."
OUR Walmart's objectives include, but are not limited to, minimum pay of $25,000 a year, quality, affordable health coverage; that Walmart and the Walton family sign "a global labor agreement" guaranteeing employees the right to organize; and that they guarantee that contractors and subcontractors will "provide living wages and worker safety protections, respect basic human and labor rights including freedom of association, and freedom from racial and gender discrimination," according to the release.
A previous, 15-day strike in Riverside, Calif., prompted today's strike, according to David Dayen at FiredogLake.com.
"In the past, Walmart has responded harshly to unionization efforts," Dayen wrote. "When one set of food workers voted to join a union at a Walmart store in North America, the company simply shut down the store and left the area. Walmart has seen labor actions at its supply chain in recent weeks too, particularly around the guest worker abuse at a seafood supplier in Louisiana. Labor organizers also brought tens of thousands to the streets of Los Angeles to protest the proposed opening of a new store in Chinatown. These actions are clearly linked and are feeding off one another. But Walmart’s vicious anti-unionization efforts give them the upper hand."