FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Bringing Attention to Illegal Retaliation and Low Wages,
WALMART WORKERS SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES, CALL FOR BETTER JOBS IN NATION’S CAPITAL
Thursday: March for Good Jobs at Walmart DC Office
WASHINGTON, DC—Following an aggressive uptick in illegal retaliation against workers speaking out for better jobs at Walmart, a group of current and recently fired Walmart workers are in Washington, DC this week to share their experiences and call for changes at the nation’s largest employer and company. The workers, part of the national organization OUR Walmart, are speaking with local residents and elected officials, Members of Congress and their staff and national leaders who are supporting their efforts.
“We’re here to make sure DC residents and our nation’s leaders know the truth about what’s going on at Walmart stores across the country,” said OUR Walmart member Jovani Gomez from Lakewood, CA. Gomez has worked at Walmart for nearly six years before being fired for going on strike in June. “Walmart is the largest employer in the country, but the jobs that Walmart is creating are holding back American workers and families.”
With hundreds of DC-area residents supporting them, the group plans to rally outside Walmart’s DC offices to try to get Walmart to publicly commit to increasing wages that the company pays, which have been under debate since DC City Council passed a bill requiring large, profitable retailers to pay a minimum hourly wage of $12.50 an hour. Prior to the rally, a group will visit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) where they will highlight the public support for the Board to continue its investigations of the aggressive retaliation that workers have been facing.
“With $16 billion in profits for the company and the wealth of 42% of American families combined in the pockets of the Walton family, Walmart can and must do more to create good jobs,” Heidi Shierholz, economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “With its size and wealth, Walmart could be making an impact in strengthening and growing our middle class, but instead, Walmart workers are forced to rely on food stamps and other public supports to cover the basics.”
Calling for Walmart to publicly commit to paying full-time work at a minimum rate of $25,000 a year, OUR Walmart’s concerns are gaining support from workers, community leaders and shareholders. At this year’s annual shareholder meeting, OUR Walmart member Janet Sparks, joined by 100 striking workers from across the country, spoke about the insufficient hours, low wages and short-staffing that are hurting customer service at stores. Additionally, Walmart employees are some of the main recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and government support.
But rather than provide good jobs that American workers need and deserve, Walmart is spending its time and money trying to deny a decent day’s pay and trying to silence workers who are standing up with their co-workers to live better. Since the prolonged strikes in June, Walmart has illegally disciplined nearly 80 workers, including 20 worker-leaders who have been fired.
“We’ve had enough is enough of Walmart’s lip-service and lies,” said Lucas Handy of Fort Dodge, IA. “We need full-time hours, we need better wages, and we need our jobs back with the promise that the retaliation against OUR Walmart will stop.”
On Wednesday, the group plans to visit Members of Congress to thank them for a recent letter to Walmart CEO Mike Duke calling for an end to the illegal activity, and to ask Members to sign onto the Worker Anti-Retaliation Act introduced by Rep. Alan Grayson in July.
OUR Walmart, Organization United for Respect at Walmart, formed just two years ago when 100 Walmart associates came together to voice their concerns about the company. The group, organized the first strikes in company history last year and helped bring more than 30,000 supporters to protest at stores on Black Friday in 2012.
Follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and ChangeWalmart.org/Tumblr
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.