FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 19th, 2012
As Black Friday Approaches and Strikes Continue to Spread Nationwide,
Washington, D.C. WALMART WORKERS WALK OFF THE JOB
Community Leaders Join in Call for an End to the Attempts to Silence Workers for Speaking out for Better Jobs
Washington, D.C. –With building frustration around the unanswered calls to Walmart to stop its attempts to silence workers who are speaking out for better jobs, and its discrimination and punishment of workers who have spoken out, Washington, D.C. Walmart workers walked off the job today. Some Walmart workers have been calling on Walmart to address low take-home pay, understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours, safety issues and respect. Other workers are also speaking out about the early start of Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, which will keep many of them from being able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. Watch a video from Walmart workers on why they’re standing up or follow the conversation on Twitter at #WalmartStrikers.
Rather than addressing the concerns that are affecting 1.4 million workers across the country, Walmart has attempted to silence those who speak out for changes that would to help the company, workers and the community. In protest, Washington, D.C. workers join Walmart workers from across the country who walked off the job in the company’s first-ever strikes in October. Since then, workers have walked off the job in Northern, CA and Dallas, TX.
“I have three children—one who is in college. If I could just get more hours scheduled, it would help me and my family a lot. Instead Walmart is hiring more part-time workers into our store rather than giving its current employees full-time work,” said Christine Bennett, a striking Walmart worker from the Capitol Plaza store in Landover Hills, Md. “But when Walmart workers speak out, our employer tries to silence us. That’s why I’m on strike.”
– Christine Bennett, Capital Plaza Walmart
Late last week Walmart filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge to stop Walmart workers from protesting.
Community leaders, including Rev. Edwin Jones of Living Faith Baptist Church, joined the workers in their calls for change at Walmart. Some Walmart workers and community leaders have been calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address take home pay so low that many Associates are forced to rely on public programs to support their families and understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service. Support has been growing online, as well, with thousands of new followers on the OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart Facebook pages, and many individuals inspired to take action to support Walmart workers.
“We must demand moral, ethical, lawful and accountable behavior, especially by the world’s largest retailer”
– Rev. Edwin Jones, Living Faith Baptist Church
As front line Walmart workers are facing these hardships, the company is raking in almost $16 billion a year in profits, executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year. Meanwhile, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of workers and communities has been building. In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting workers, communities and our economy.
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain. The company is facing yet anothergender discrimination lawsuiton behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee, and a wage theft class action suit in Chicago. In the warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of dollars of merchandise, workers are facing rampant wage theft and health and safety violations so extreme that they led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines. The Department of Labor fined a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondage were cited.
Financial analysts are also joining the call for Walmart to create better checks and balances, transparency and accountability that will protect workers and communities and strengthen the company. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service. Goebel was one of four Associate-shareholders who proposed a resolution calling for the reining in of executive pay. The resolution received unprecedented support from major pension funds that voted their shares against Walmart CEO and members of the board this June, amounting to a ten-fold increase and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by the Walton family against the company’s leadership.
These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for growth, particularly in urban markets. Calling the company a “bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city without addressing labor and community relations’ problems. This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped would be its first location in New York. In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the city after facing significant community opposition.
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.