This is the second in our series on why workers are standing up. Here, you’ll read the stories of real Walmart workers who have made great sacrifices in order to speak out for change at the world’s largest private employer.
From Baton Rouge, LA, Brandon grew up with a single mom. She raised him to be a hard worker. In high school, Brandon excelled in sports. He did well in his classes and participated in football, basketball, wrestling, track and field and bowling. By the time Brandon graduated, he was a strong enough athlete to play collegiate sports.
While in school, Brandon’s mother fell ill. She was unable to work to support herself. Brandon had a tough choice to make. He left college and moved back home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to help support his mom through her illness. He found a job working at Walmart in Baker.
It wasn’t long after he started that he discovered just how difficult it was to get by on Walmart wages. Worse yet, the management treated its employees with disrespect. His store was constantly understaffed and employees were always overworked and treated with no regard for them as human beings.
One vocal worker in his store, an older woman named Janet Sparks, was part of a group called Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). Through the worker-led organization, she had taken a number of actions and helped many of her coworkers. After some consideration and looking into the organization, Brandon decided to join the movement to change Walmart.
He bravely went on strike, traveling across the country by bus to visit Walmart’s headquarters to protest Walmart’s illegal attempts to silence and intimidate workers who stood up for their right to speak out.
After he returned to work from the legally protected strike, Walmart called him into the office. Management told Brandon that he was being fired for absences during the time he was on strike. This week, Brandon is bringing his calls for change at Walmart straight to Washington, DC.