As you may have heard, OUR Walmart kicked off its Ride for Respect on Tuesday, with caravans of OUR Walmart members around the country embarking on an almost two week-long journey that will pick up other associates, activists, and supporters along the way to Bentonville, Arkansas for the annual Walmart Shareholders Meeting on June 7th.
On the same day that the caravans launched on their Ride for Respect, several Walmart associates in Miami, parts of Massachusetts, and the California Bay Area have walked off the job—the first of many to participate in a prolonged, ULP strike.
OUR Walmart members from California’s Bay Area have already been busy. Members from the caravan stopped by the homes of Greg Penner and Marissa Mayer, both on Walmart’s Board of Directors, in hopes of having a conversation about Walmart’s retaliation against its workers. Since neither were home, the group left letters of concern at the homes, as well as OUR Walmart t-shirts signed by the associates.
On Monday night, the Bay Area caravan hosted a Nitro action at which an associate walked off the job and was supported by other OUR Walmart members.
One of the associates on the Bay Area caravan, Dominic Ware, shares his story below, and speaks about why he is part of Ride for Respect this year:
“Hello My name is Dominic Ware and I have worked at Walmart Store #5434 in San Leandro Californa for 2 years now. I make $8.65 an hour which does not even cover my commute to and from work let alone allow me to have a place to live. Sometimes I go without food and have to wait until the next paycheck to be able to have food.
While growing up as a child my mother was a very powerful leader in my Community. My mother was very involved in education. It was a necessity to have. She stood up for education and instilled that in me. My mother was a very strong individual and never bowed down to any man. I believe that’s why I stand up for what is right is because that is how I was raised.
I have seen Walmart retaliate against people for standing up with OUR Walmart. My hours were cut the week before I went out on strike for Bentonville 2013.
[But] being a member of OUR Walmart means encouragement and empowerment to me. Being a part of the Organization means I do not have to stand alone and that I have people to relate with. This is important to any leader of a store because Walmart tries to isolate them and make it seem like they are the only ones that see the problem. Its bigger than the individual and the store, its really the company that is the problem. Being a part of OUR Walmart shatters the image of isolation and brings to life the vision and power of togetherness.
I am going to Bentonville because the first time we went we got a little response. The second time we went we got some questions answered and now I am hopeful minded to end the retaliation.
We had an Awesome Kick Off and without a hitch. The action was very peaceful and the police encounters went smooth. The bus is cool because we are allowed to stretch our legs and the actions along the way. I am glad I am here where I am supposed to be. Excited for tomorrow!!!”
You can support workers like Dominic by signing the petition here. Stay tuned for more stories and updates from the Ride for Respect!
Legal Disclaimer: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.