In a show of strength, Walmart workers from six stores in the Los Angeles area went on strike last Wednesday to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers who speak out. The day following the strikes, workers and community members came together at a downtown Los Angeles Walmart in Chinatown.
Challenging the company to pay a reasonable wage that would allow workers to care for their families without relying on government assistance, 54 workers and community supporters were arrested in the “largest act of civil disobedience ever at Walmart.”
According to the Huffington Post:
Surrounded by about 100 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter circling above, more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they sat in the street protesting what they called the retailer’s “poverty wages.”
Organizers said it was the largest single act of civil disobedience in Walmart’s 50-year history. The 54 arrestees, with about 500 protesting Walmart workers, clergy and supporters, demonstrated outside LA’s Chinatown Walmart. Those who refused police orders to clear the street after their permit expired were arrested without incident. Those who fail to post $5,000 bail would be jailed overnight, Detective Gus Villanueva, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, told The Huffington Post.
Their primary demand to Walmart: pay every full-time worker at least $25,000 a year.
Walmart responded predictably by trying to downplay the significance of intensifying calls for change at the company. Instead of acknowledging the legitimate and growing concerns of workers, most of whom make less than $25,000 a year, spokesperson told the LA Times, that “…Wal-Mart has seen such protests ‘over and over again.’”
While declining to give further details at this time, workers told the press in a conference call last Thursday that the recent strikes and acts of civil disobedience are merely a taste of what Walmart can expect to see throughout the holiday season and this Black Friday.