For Immediate Release
Elizabeth Brennan at 213-999-2164, Allison Mannos at 323-706-8320, or Jorge Amaro at 202-412-4998
LA Walmart Workers Go On Strike
Workers Put Jobs on the Line in Protest of Company’s Aggressive Efforts to Silence Them
WASHINGTON - Joined by hundreds of community supporters, Walmart workers walked off the job at stores throughout the Los Angeles area today, saying they couldn’t wait another moment for Walmart to end its illegal retaliation against workers calling for better wages and full-time work.
Walmart workers, many of whom are paid less than $25,000 a year at the country’s largest employer, are risking their livelihoods by striking against an employer that aggressively and illegally, fires and disciplines workers for speaking out for better jobs.
Pointing to the $17 billion in annual profits and the $144.7 billion wealth of the Walton family, the group said Walmart can and should do more to improve jobs, and in turn, the economy. Many vowed to engage in peaceful civil disobedience on Thursday if Walmart does not enact real changes.
Striking workers like Anthony Goytiahave been emboldened by the recent disclosure from CEO Bill Simon that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year. Goytia is a father of three who is forced to resort to payday loans, public programs and even participates in clinical trials to cover the bills.
“Walmart, we’ve all had enough—me and my coworkers and my neighbors and all of LA. I know that I may be fired for speaking out today, but Walmart executives and the country need to hear about what’s really going on at our country’s largest employer,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to participate in clinical trials just to get by, and I shouldn’t have to fear for my job for talking about it. We won’t back down until you commit to end all retaliation against us for speaking out and pay all associates a minimum of $25,000 for full-time work.”
The group’s call for better jobs includes:
· an end to illegal retaliation;
· a minimum of $25,000/year;
· more full-time work.
The striking workers were joined by faith leaders, Walmart customers, elected officials and community leaders like King Cheung of the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, a grassroots organization in LA’s Chinatown. “Our communities are hurt by companies like Walmart—the nation’s largest employer—denying Americans adequate pay for their work and destroying small businesses,” Cheung said. “We’re standing with workers to send a strong message to Walmart: this community is fed up. Those who’ve done well in America must do right by America.”
Since 30,000 workers and supporters participated in strikes and protests on Black Friday 2012, calls for change at the country’s largest retailer and employer have been intensifying, putting Walmart on thedefensive. Citing low wages, manipulative scheduling, understaffing and unsafe working conditions, members of Congress, economic and policy experts, shareholdersand financial analystsare pointing to practices that Walmart must end to improve jobs, strengthen the economy—and the company’s bottom line.
The strikers 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 companyretaliating against those who speak out for better working conditions.
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Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers increasing
Since June, Walmart has illegally disciplined over 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders who were exercising their civil rights. 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 announced it found merit to OUR Walmart’s charge that Walmart committed 11 violations of national labor law.
Because they want to keep denying American workers to wages and hours they need, 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’s board of directors and even shareholder divestment this year.
Walmart workforce reliance on public assistance costs taxpayers $900,000—at one store alone
Walmart, the largest company on the Fortune 500 list, has $17 billion in profits a year, and the Waltons—the majority shareholders of the company—have the combined wealth of 42% of American families. Meanwhile, workers are making low wages and not getting enough hours, forcing many to rely on public programs to support their families even though they work for the country’s largest private employer.
A Congressional report released earlier this year calculates the Walmart workforce reliance on public assistanceincluding 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.
$25,000 a year would mean 1.5 million move out of poverty, create 100,000 new jobs
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 mean 1.5 million retail workers and their families move out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.
For more information on Black Friday protests, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and changewalmart.tumblr.com.
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