FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC- Today at noon, Walmart workers in Maryland and Texas citing Unfair Labor Practices (ULP)committed by Walmart, walked off the job in protest of the company’s attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs. The worker’s action come in response to reports of Walmart managers in Maryland and across the country telling Walmart workers that their actions taken last Black Friday were illegal, any future attempts to strike would be illegal and punishable, and for associating or even talking with Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) could lead to termination.
“What I know based on my conversations with other OUR Walmart leaders and other associates from Walmart Associates in Kentucky, Florida, Illinois, Maryland and other states last week Walmart managers started reading a memo to employees stating that their right to strike are illegal and if they did not stop taking action against the company they would be punished,” said Coly Harris, a Dallas, TX Walmart Associate, OUR Walmart leader and striker. “Not only are such statements to employees illegal but they are threatening and intimidating and no one should have to endure that. I along with other Walmart associates work hard to support our families and support our community, as a worker I should have the right to do my job free from intimidation and threats.”
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and discrimination against women and people of color, but rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence them.
Last October, OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. At that time, workers walked off their jobs in more than 12 cities and with the support of national and local leaders, held protests at more than 200 stores. Since then, workers have walked off the job in Richmond, CA and Dallas, TX, and support for OUR Walmart, the associate organization calling for Walmart to publically commit to address labor rights and standards, has continued to grow.
Striking warehouse workers, who move billions of dollars of merchandise for Walmart, joined the call to speak about the retaliation they have experienced for speaking out against unsafe working conditions, including extreme temperatures, broken and unsafe equipment and inadequate access to clean drinking water. The workers from the Inland Empire, outside of Los Angeles, held a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs last September.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to publically commit to changing its treatment of workers and communities has been building. Last year, thousands of Walmart Associates and their supporters took unprecedented actions against Walmart in response to illegal actions the world’s largest private employer has been taking against its workers. We saw Walmart workers walk off the job from California to Maryland, in protest against the company’s attempts to silence workers who labor rights, and standards. And in the fall for the first time in the history of the company, we saw the first group of Walmart associates go on strike. As a result nearly 1,200 protests and actions took place at Walmart stores for its treatment of employees and the communities they occupy.
“The reason I decided to strike was because I cannot allow Walmart to mislead, threaten and intimidate myself or my fellow associates. We have rights and legal protection and if we don’t stand up to these misleading and downright untruths now, Walmart will continue its behavior and that is just unacceptable. We must hold Walmart accountable for their actions,” said Harris.
Following the protest at Walmart’s Laurel, MD store, Harris and other Walmart workers went to the National Labor Relations Board to file an official complaint against Walmart for their latest action to silence and intimidate workers.<
OUR Walmart’s purpose is to help Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. OUR Walmart has no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with it as the representative of Walmart employees.