FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Monday, June 24th 2013
On eve of Marissa Mayer’s first shareholder meeting as Yahoo’s CEO,
Walmart Workers Arrested Protesting Marissa Mayer and Walmart Over Attack on Workers’ Free Speech
Workers Protest Walmart Board Member Marissa Mayer After Being Fired for Speaking Out for a Better Life and Improved Working Conditions
Sunnyvale, CA – Today, recently fired Walmart Associates who were illegally terminated by the company in an attempt to suppress their rights to speak out and join together with their coworkers for a better life held a dramatic protest at Yahoo Inc. headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, leading to five arrests. The actions taken by the workers were to bring attention to Marissa Mayer’s, Yahoo’s CEO and a board member of Walmart, silence as the retail giant bullies its employees. As a Board member at Walmart, Mayer has a responsibility to ensure that Walmart does not violate the freedom of speech of workers who speak out for better jobs, said Walmart workers.
The dramatic sit-in and march at Yahoo’s headquarters took place a day before Yahoo’s annual shareholders meeting and follow recent protests at Yahoo’s campus and Mayer’s Four Seasons penthouse in San Francisco. For months, Walmart workers and community members have raised concerns about her position as a board member at Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, which is facing pressure both from its employees and community groups over the company’s business practices at home and overseas.
Since June 2011, Walmart Associates have been organizing as a group known as the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). That organizing resulted in a series of strikes nationwide leading up to Walmart’s June annual shareholder meeting. Now, just days after that meeting, Walmart has responded by firing and disciplining workers who participated in the OUR Walmart protests and strikes in an illegal effort to suppress workers’ freedom of speech. Their efforts are being met by an outcry from community and elected leaders at the national, state and local level who are calling on the Board of Directors to take control of the company’s behavior to ensure that the law is followed and basic American values are respected.
“As a working mom, I thought Marissa Mayer would understand why I’m standing up to create a better life for my family,” said Walmart associate Marie Roberty, who was recently fired for speaking out. “I was wrong. We’ve been reaching out to Ms. Mayer for months now, but so far she’s remained silent. I joined with my coworkers in publicly calling for Walmart to improve in the hopes of keeping food on the table, a roof over our heads, and having a regular schedule that allows me to be there for my kids. Instead, Walmart fired me – and I’m here today to hold Marissa Mayer accountable for this, and I’ll keep speaking out until Walmart ends its illegal retaliation against me and my coworkers.”
The workers’ calls for change come as Mayer and other members of Walmart’s board have remained silent even as the company contends with widespread protests against its treatment of its workers, plummeting customer service ratings and weak store sales due to understaffing, and preventable tragedies in the supply chain.
OUR Walmart members and supporters nationwide have been calling for the company to end retaliation against employees and publicly commit to providing full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000 a year so workers don’t have to rely on taxpayer funded programs to support their families. As the nation’s largest private employer, a change of course at Walmart would have a direct impact on millions of working families and the economy as a whole.
Workers and their supporters also delivered a card signed by hundreds of progressive journalists, activists, and other supporters at last week’s Netroots Nation; that card asks Mayer to meet with Walmart workers and support their calls for change at the company.
“Walmart’s outrageous suppression of its workers’ freedom of speech shows just how far out of step this company is with American values of freedom and respect for hard work. It’s unacceptable that a company with $16 billion in profits is bullying working families just trying to make ends meet and keep food on the table,” said Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “We’re not going to stand for it – we’re going to stand up to Walmart’s illegal behavior until they stand down and respect workers’ rights to speak out.”
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.