News

Under Pressure from OUR Walmart & Customers, Walmart Promises to Staff Up

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Walmart plans to increase staffing levels. Walmart has struggled with sales for the last couple of years. Throughout that same period, Associates with OUR Walmart and customers have spoken out many times in the press to draw attention to severe understaffing which often leaves shelves empty.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The move comes as the world’s largest retailer has struggled to win back shoppers after seven straight quarters of falling traffic in the U.S.
Many customers have ditched the chain’s giant superstores in favor of quicker trips to smaller nearby rivals. Wal-Mart, in part due to that shift, hasn’t posted an increase in sales at its U.S. stores open at least a year since 2012…

The company also has struggled this year with complaints about too many out of stock items and empty shelves. Executives have said that refilling shelves alone could bring back $3 billion in sales.

While the company claims it already increased staffing in the front end, overnight stocking and the deli and bakery, Walmart is now going a step further. Again, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Walmart is promising to staff each of its cash registers from the day after Thanksgiving through the days just before Christmas during peak shopping times.

The move, called the “checkout promise,” is aimed at addressing one of the retailer’s biggest customer complaints: long waits in checkout lines, which can cause even more frustration when positions aren’t fully staffed. The pledge will cover hours typically on weekend afternoons but which can vary by store.

Are you seeing these changes in your store? Click here to learn how you can help OUR Walmart hold Walmart to its promise.

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OSHA Settlement Changes

Safety Changes in 29 States Nationwide  (See full list of states below.)

The terms of the settlement agreement go from August, 5 2013 to September 5, 2015.

Walmart has been ordered by OSHA to comply with the requirements below.  If Walmart is found to violate any of these requirements, in any of the stores in the 29 states, OSHA can come back into the store, and cite the company for “Failure to Abate” which carries larger penalties.

  1. Walmart must post a copy of the document known as the “Notice of Settlement Agreement Between  Walmart and OSHA, and Summary of Nationwide Safety and Health Enhancements.”

This is a two-page document which must be posted by Walmart in an area of the store where all employees are able to see it.  It must be posted until  September  5, 2015. A copy of the settlement agreement is attached so associates know what to look for.

Trash Compactor Safety

  • No one may enter the trash compactor or place any part of their body in the compactor or chute.
  • Walmart must designate managers and associates who are allowed to operate the trash compactor and supervise use of the trash compactor.  These individuals must be trained on the hazards of the trash compactor and correct procedures for operating the compactor, including the requirements specified in this settlement agreement.  The training must be in a language and format that trainees understand.
  • The trash compactor may only be operated in the presence, and under the supervision, of a salaried manager or a person who has been trained and designated by Walmart to be thoroughly knowledgeable about the safe procedures of operating the trash compactor and the dangers associated with the operation.
  • The compactor chute door must be closed and the interlock device on the door of the compactor must be functioning properly, for the trash compactor to be used.  Otherwise, the compactor is not to be used.
  • All trash compactor chute doors must be locked when not in use.
  • If jams occur, employees can only clear the jam from a distance with an approved long-handled tool.  If this does not unclog the jam, Walmart must get an outside contractor to clear the jam.

Hazardous Chemicals

  • Employees using the “Solutions Center” dispensing station  should  only handle diluted cleaning chemicals and are not allowed to mix  undiluted, concentrated, cleaning chemicals, unless thoroughly and properly trained beforehand.
  • Employees using the “Solutions Center” to mix or handle undiluted, concentrated, cleaning chemicals must be properly trained and must be provided with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Training must be provided on the correct use of the personal protective equipment, including how to wear it properly, and what types of PPE are required.
  • Correct PPE for handing chemicals may include gloves, goggles, and protection for clothing.
  • Training for mixing or handling undiluted, concentrated cleaning chemicals must be in a language understood by employees, and in a format they understand.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets, MSDSs, which contain information about the hazardous chemicals, must be available to all employees handling chemicals.  They will be available from the Wire.

How will OSHA know whether the requirements are being followed by Walmart?

Outside Monitors.    Walmart will bring in “outside monitors” to visit Stores and make sure the requirements are being following.

Associates should check and make sure Walmart is following all of the requirements listed in this flyer.

Protection of retaliation or discrimination

It is against the law for Walmart to retaliate or punish associates, in any way, who check on and report violations of this agreement or who report any other safety and health hazards.  If an associate feels he or she has been retaliated against, a complaint must be filed with OSHA within 30 days that the discriminatory act has taken place.

STATES IN WHICH THE OSHA SETTLEMENT IS IN EFFECT

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
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Open Letter to Walmart’s New CEO Doug McMillon

The following is an open letter to Walmart’s new CEO Doug McMillon from members of OUR Walmart.

Dear Mr. McMillon:

Congratulations on your appointment as Chief Executive Officer at Walmart. As a long-time Walmart executive, we know that you are deeply familiar with the hard work and many challenges facing associates at Walmart. Thousands of OUR Walmart members in stores across the country stand ready to work with you to change Walmart for the better under your leadership.

Many industry observers and analysts – as well as shareholders – have noted that our company’s low wages, erratic scheduling and understaffing are at the root of the out-of-stock and operational problems that have contributed to disappointing sales figures and low customer satisfaction ratings.

The low pay, coupled with inadequate hours and unpredictable scheduling, means that far too many of us cannot adequately provide for our families or contribute to our communities. For example, OUR Walmart member Barbara Collins, who worked at Walmart for more than eight years, was sometimes scheduled for as few as eight hours a week. She had to visit three different local food banks one month just to feed her family. Last year, she was illegally fired by Walmart after speaking out.

Walmart’s aggressive, and in many cases illegal, treatment of associates who speak out for better working conditions has not only prompted legal and public concerns, the company’s actions have emboldened more associates to get involved in the calls for better jobs

The call for Walmart to pay associates more and end retaliation against those who speak out has never been greater. This Black Friday, for example, tens of thousands of associates and members of our communities held protests at nearly 1,500 Walmart stores. Feeling the urgent need for Walmart to improve jobs, more than 100 of us were arrested in civil disobedience actions calling on Walmart to pay associates more and stop retaliating against those who speak out.

Your appointment as CEO provides an opportunity to begin a new chapter at Walmart. We are hopeful that you will seize this moment and change direction at Walmart in a way that reinvests in associates and our communities.

Members of OUR Walmart are committed to being partners in this endeavor. We hope you agree that the hourly associates of OUR Walmart have an important role to play in improving our company, and we would like to meet with you with you at your earliest convenience so that you may listen to our concerns and hear our ideas for the future of Walmart.

Sincerely,

Barbara Collins
OUR Walmart member, illegally fired by Walmart
Store #2418, Placerville, CA

Charmaine Givens-Thomas
OUR Walmart member
Store #5485, Evergreen Park, IL

Anthony Goytia
OUR Walmart member
Store #2401, Duarte, CA

Cindy Murray
OUR Walmart member
Store #1985, Laurel, MD

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PROTESTS FOR BETTER JOBS AT WALMART SWEEP STORES NATIONWIDE

Workers, Community Leaders in 9 Major Cities to Risk Arrest; Cite Walmart’s Poverty Pay
Nation Rallies Behind Walmart Workers; Black Friday Protests Mark One of Largest Mobilizations of Working Families in Recent History
 
Media Call: TODAY, 12pm ET/9am PT
RSVP/Call-in Info: Giovanna Frank-Vitale, 610-207-9167, giovanna.vitale@berlinrosen.com 
 
For Live Updates and PhotosBlack Friday protests across the nation throughout the day, visit:www.BlackFridayProtests.org 
Follow on Twitter: @ChangeWalmart; @ForRespect; #WalmartStrikers 
 
(USA) – Calling for better jobs, Walmart workers and community supporters across the nation are holding 1500 protests against the mega-retailer today, in one of the largest mobilizations of working families in recent history. As part of the protests already underway, workers, faith leaders and community supporters are risking arrest in at least nine major metropolitan cities, outraged that with $17 billion in profits, Walmart continues to pay many workers poverty wages. Workers and supporters are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, for Walmart to publicly commit to paying $25,000 a year and to provide more full-time work.
 
Workers and supporters are set to take peaceful civil disobedience in major cities from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Sacramento, Secaucus, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. The group has been emboldened by revelations from Walmart’s CEO that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000, while the Walton family’s wealth totals over $144 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.
 
“We refuse to live in fear. And we refuse to accept scraps. That’s why there have been so many strikes and protests this month,” said Dorothy Halvorson, a Walmart employee in Placerville, California, who has worked at the store for 11 years and plans to take part in civil disobedience today. “We know that we are closer to change at Walmart than ever before – and it’s clear that Walmart knows it too. We won’t stop protesting until we get change. This Black Friday is historic, and we will only grow stronger from here.”
 
In recent weeks, protesting Walmart workers have received an outpouring of national support. Calling for an end to Walmart’s illegal retaliation and attempts to silence workers who speak out for better working conditions, workers have walked off their jobs in a dozen cities, including Los AngelesSeattleChicagoOhioDallasFloridaWashington, D.C. and elsewhere.
 
“The civil disobedience by Walmart workers and supporters across the country is a testament to the immense courage of these workers fighting for dignity, respect and a decent wage — the same things that working people have marched and rallied for in this country for decades,” said Rev. Jesse Jacksonone of America’s foremost civil rights activists. “The civil rights movement of the past called for workers to be free and equal. Walmart workers today are free, but far from equal. The company has lost its way, and it’s an honor to support workers taking this powerful moral action to get Walmart on the right path.”
 
Earlier this month, a photo from a Canton, Ohio store went viral, as workerscustomers andcommentators pointed to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages. And the federal labor board recently announced it would prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights, providing additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs.
 
“As the largest company in the country, Walmart makes billions of dollars in profit while paying workers so little that many cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner. It shows a complete disregard for employees and their families,” said Rev. Ed Middleton, a pastor at First Community Church in Dallas, Texas who plans to risk arrest today. “The scope of today’s nationwide protests matches the outrage felt by Americans across the country. Walmart’s business model is morally indefensible, and we won’t stand for it.”
 
Since then, the company has been on the defensive. On Monday, when Walmart announced that Doug McMillon would replace Mike Duke as CEO, numerous business analysts highlighted that the incoming CEO would have to address Walmart’s failing business model and pay its workers more.
 
“I’m prepared to get arrested today for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves,” said Myron Byrd, a 45 year-old father of three who makes $20,000 as a full-time Walmart employee in Chicago. “I’ve never done civil disobedience before, but I know what it is. My mother participated in the civil rights movement, and always told me that if I saw something wrong, it was our job to change it. And that’s exactly what thousands of us are doing today – calling for change at Walmart and standing up for fair pay and better jobs.”
 
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For updates and photos of Black Friday protests throughout the day, visitwww.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation at @ChangeWalmart and #WalmartStrikers.
 
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.
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Walmart Workers, Community Allies to Hold 1500 Protests Across Country on Black Friday

WALMART WORKERS, COMMUNITY ALLIES TO HOLD 1500 PROTESTS ACROSS COUNTRY ON BLACK FRIDAY

Protests in Los Angeles, Miami, Bay Area, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Sacramento Mark Largest Mobilization of Working Families in Recent History

Environmental, Religious, Women’s & Immigrants’ Rights Groups Join Workers to Call For An End to Illegal Retaliation, $25,000 a Year, Full-Time Work

(Washington, DC) – Walmart workers and community allies today announced plans leading up to and on Black Friday, saying 1500 protests are scheduled for across the country, in what is set to be one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history. Workers are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, and for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards, such as providing workers with more full time work and $25,000 a year. As the country’s largest retailer and employer, Walmart makes more than $17 billion in profits, with the wealth of the Walton family totaling over $144.7 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

“Black Friday 2013 will mark a turning point in American history,” said Dorian Warren, associate professor at Columbia University. “Fifteen hundred protests against Walmart is unprecedented. Working families are fighting back like never before – and have the support of America behind them.

Emboldened by news from Walmart CEO Bill Simon that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, workers and supporters are calling for better jobs nationwide. Major protests are planned in more than a dozen metropolitan cities, including Los AngelesChicagoBay AreaSeattle,SacramentoMiamiMinneapolis and Washington, DC.

The announcement follows revelations this week that many Walmart workers don’t have enough money to cover Thanksgiving dinner for their families. A photo from a Canton, Ohio store set the internet abuzz Monday, with workerscustomers andcommentators pointing to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages.

“Walmart’s right that associates do stick together and look out for each other. We have to because Walmart and the Waltons seem to be fine with the financial struggles that we’re all facing,” said Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart employee from Colorado. “We’re are all in the same situation, one that Walmart creates by paying us poverty wages that aren’t enough to cover holiday meals. We don’t want handouts; we want an employer that pays us enough to afford Thanksgiving dinner – and dinner every night of the year.”

Workers and community supporters have been inspired by actions across the country in recent weeks. In Los Angeles, workers went on a two-day strike that culminated in the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against Walmart, and last week, workers in SeattleChicagoOhio and Dallas joined them in walking off their jobs.

The strikes, which call for an end to illegal retaliation at Walmart, come as the federal labor board this week issued a decision to prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs. The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June.

With the Labor Relations Board moves forward to seek a settlement that could include the reinstatement of fired workers, a group of Walmart employees who were illegally retaliated against are traveling to Bentonville, Arkansas to call on Walmart CEO Bill Simon to reinstate them immediately. Early Friday morning, November 22, the fired workers will visit Home Office to urge Walmart to live up to the anti-retaliation policy it professes to follow.

“I’m traveling to Bentonville with other workers who were wrongfully fired because Walmart needs to hear from us directly: we want our jobs back, and we want you to put theanti-retaliation policy you talk about into practice,” said Jeanna Slate, a fired striker, mother and grandmother from rural Texas who is traveling to Bentonville. “Walmart makes $17 billion dollars in profits while the majority of its workers makeless than $25,000 a year. Walmart can do better.”

Walmart workers have escalated their online organizing and community outreach ahead of Black Friday 2013, allowing customers and community members to join the fight for $25,000 and an end to illegal retaliation. Chicago worker Charmaine Givens-Thomas launched an online petition asking President Obama to meet with Walmart workers, which currently has more than 100,000 signers; individuals can sponsor a Walmart striker online; and a new online portal, www.associatevoices.com, allows associates to step forward and request Black Friday protests at their stores. Just weeks since the launch, the number of cities that have requested a Black Friday rally is well ahead of the number at this point in 2012.

National leaders and community groups representing tens of millions of Americans, from every corner of thecountry, will join workers at protests leading up to and on Black Friday. Members of Congress, including Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); women’s groups including the National Organization for Women andFamily Values @ Work; and environmental and consumer protection organizations such as The Sierra Club, the National Consumers League andFood and Water Watch, have all pledged support for the courageous workers, saying their fight is a fight for all Americans.

“I learned about the growing protests online, and after seeing the news that Walmart was asking its own employees to feed one another, I knew I had to speak out,” said Rev. Holly Beaumont, organizing director for Interfaith Worker Justice New Mexico, who plans to join protests around Black Friday. “It’s not right. Anyone who works hard shouldn’t have to rely on food stamps, or charity from their coworkers, just to get by.”

Growing voices in business and the media have denounced Walmart for its unsustainable business model. A Bloomberg columnist recently called the company the true “welfare queen,” noting that Walmart is the largest consumer of taxpayer-supported aid. Following third quarter revenues that fell short of expectations, Forbes added that shoppers, shareholders and the retail giant havereason to worry. And the New York Times argued that Walmart employees deserve both raises and to have the federal government behind them.

As calls for change intensify, academics, business experts and think tanks are offering ways that Walmart can increase workers’ wages without costing taxpayers, customers or the business a dime. A Fortune article pointed toinvestors wanting change – Walmart could easily raise wages by 50% without affecting its stock value. And public policy organization Demos released a report this week finding that Walmart could easily payevery employee $14.89 without raising prices by simply not buying its own stock to further enrich the Walton family.

Walmart’s low-wage model winds up costing us all,” said Amy Traub, Demos senior policy analyst and co-author of A Higher Wage is Possible. “When the biggest employer in the country doesn’t pay its workers enough to spend money in their communities, we don’t get the economic growth that creates more jobs. And when jobs don’t pay enough to support a family, taxpayers end up subsidizing Walmart’s workforce costs through public benefits like Medicaid and nutrition assistance.”

For more information on Black Friday protests, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.organd follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and changewalmart.tumblr.com.

 

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Dan Hindman

Dan Hindman is a proud father of two and has worked at the Walmart store in Paramount, California for over four years. On average, he works 10 hours per week and earns $10.50 an hour. His annual income is approximately $5,600.

Last year, Hindman saw his health premiums rise 33% for his son and himself (from $60 to $80/month). This year, with the arrival of his newborn baby daughter, Denali, he cannot afford to include her on his Walmart health plan. Adding his daughter to his plan would cost $110 per week – or more than 50% of his paycheck. Hindman has already had to struggle with past hospital and doctor bills and co-pays totaling $2,500.

“I want nothing more than to be a good provider for my family. However, with what Walmart pays us it’s hard to do that,” said Hindman. “I am not looking for charity all I want is the hours and pay that will allow me to take care of my family. If I were making $25,000 a year things would be different, things would be better.”

Hindman is struggling to make ends meet as Walmart keeps cutting his hours. He has asked management to give him more hours, but instead of giving him more hours, management told him he needed to open up his availability. Although he did as they asked, Walmart still refuses to give him additional hours while the company is steadily hiring new temporary workers.

“I believe in standing up for what I know is right. I know I’m taking a big risk standing up to Walmart because they often retaliate against people who speak up for change, but it’s the right thing to do,” said Hindman. “I want Walmart to pay all of us a fair wage so that we are able to provide. I don’t like feeling like I’m an irresponsible person, because I can’t even afford the basic necessities for my family. That’s why I fight and that’s why we are going to win. We have no other choice.”

Read about more workers like Dan each week as we release more stories from the majority of Walmart employees who struggle to get by on less than $25,000 a year.

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Workers Call for Decent Pay, Not Hand Outs

jwjAfter the Cleveland Plain Dealer released a photo of some food drive bins, meant for Walmart associates to give to Walmart associates, so that they can have food for Thanksgiving, the internet lit up with outraged workers, consumers, and even celebrities–like Ashton Kutcher. And Stephen Colbert did an awesome segment of it on his show last night. You can watch it here

The photo is proof of Walmart’s miserably low-wages. Now, workers are calling for change. Check out the video below.

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Sponsor a Striker: Brandon’s Story

Brandon Garrett has always stood up for his teammates. The talented athlete puts others first. Brandon’s hard work on the athletic field gave the young man from Baton Rouge the opportunity to play college football at Pasadena City College in California. But shortly after realizing his dream, Brandon gave it all up to return to Louisiana to care for his mother when she fell ill.

He put football aside to take a job at a Walmart in nearby Baker. But even as a Walmart worker, for Brandon it was still about taking care of his teammates. At Walmart, he saw his coworkers being treated with disrespect, and saw them struggle to survive on their meager wages. He saw how his store was always understaffed and the employees were overworked.

Brandon wanted Walmart to take pride in its workers – to pay fair wages and treat them with respect, so he stood up for his Walmart teammates. Brandon joined the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), and went on strike in June to deliver a message to company executives in Bentonville.
But when Brandon stood up, Walmart struck back. Brandon was illegally fired for participating in the strike. He wasn’t alone. Since Summer, Walmart has fired or disciplined more than 80 workers for going on strike.

Walmart workers take a big risk when they speak out. Despite their legal rights, Walmart illegally fires many of them for standing up and going on strike. Settling these lawsuits can take years. Walmart thinks that when they fire someone, they’re intimidating workers into keeping silent. They’re wrong.

Brandon’s coworkers with OUR Walmart rallied around him. He has been unemployed since June, although he has never stopped fighting for his coworkers. They pooled their resourcers and helped him through a temporary hardship fund. But like many workers that Walmart fired for going on strike, Brandon wants to continue the fight.

Instead of the problem going away for Walmart when they fire a worker, what if that worker could become an organizer? What if instead of being unemployed, they could use all of their work hours talking to their coworkers about the importance of changing Walmart?

That’s the concept behind the newly created Sponsor a Striker fund. Donations will go directly to supporting fired Walmart strikers as they become fulltime organizers, working to help their former co-workers stand up to the world’s largest private employer.

You can learn more about Brandon and other fired workers or even sponsor one of them here.

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Walmart Workers Recieve Outpouring of Local, National Support

Leading Up to Black Friday,

WALMART WORKERS RECEIVE OUTPOURING OF LOCAL, NATIONAL SUPPORT

Labor, Environmental, Religious, Women’s & Immigrants’ Rights and Community Organizations Join Growing Number of Protests

BREAKING: Labor Board Announces Decision to Prosecute Walmart for Violating Workers’ Rights

 

(WASHINGTON) – Leaders of local, state and national groups representing tens of millions of Americans pledged to join Walmart workers demanding change at the country’s largest retailer and employer on Black Friday. Amid growing protests and strikes at stores across the country, national leaders say the day will mark one of the largest mobilizations of working families in U.S. history, surpassing last year when more than 30,000 workers and supporters protested against the mega-retailer.

During the call, OUR Walmart member Tiffany Beroid announced breaking news from the National Labor Relations Board. Today, the Board’s General Counsel is issuing a decision to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs at the country’s largest employer. The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June, according to the decision.

Individuals and organizations announcing their support for Walmart workers represent millions of Americans from every corner of the country, including members of Congress such as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA); policy experts and academics such as Demos, the National Employment Law Project and the Economic Policy Institute; women’s groups such as the National Organization for Women and Family Values @ Work; and environmental and consumer protection organizations such as The Sierra Club, the National Consumers League and Food and Water Watch.

“The scale of support and nationwide activity being planned for Black Friday is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent history. Black Friday is becoming a labor day of action for working families,” said Peter Dreier, Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College and author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. “As income inequality climbs to historic levels and families are increasingly pushed to the margins, working families are coming together to demand better. This year, the day after Thanksgiving will be remembered not as the biggest shopping day of the year, but as the day Americans took action to demand the country’s largest employer pay workers livable wages and play a part in improving our economy.”

“The fight for better pay, full time work and an end to illegal retaliation at Walmart isn’t just a workers’ issue,” said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of labor unions in the country, representing more than 12 million Americans. “It’s a family and women’s issue, an immigrant rights issue, a student issue, an environmental issue and a consumer issue. Above all, it’s an issue of fairness. I’m proud to say that the AFL-CIO has committed the full weight of the labor movement to support these brave, determined Walmart workers who are calling for change for all of us. Black Friday is just the next step in efforts to stand together and demand Walmart makes the right choice. And until they do, the more than 12 millionmembers of the AFL-CIO will stand in lockstep with the Walmart workers alongtheir path to justice.”

The announcement came as a growing number of voices in business and the media denounce Walmart for its unsustainable business model. Last week, a Bloomberg columnist called the company the true “welfare queen,” noting that Walmart is the largest consumer of taxpayer-supported aid. A Fortune article pointed to investors wanting change – Walmart could easily raise wages by 50% without affecting its stock value. Following third quarter revenues that fell short of expectations, Forbes added that shoppers, shareholders and the retail Giant have reason to worry. And the New York Times argued that Walmart employees deserve both raises and to have the federal government behind them.

“Our more than 8 million members stand in solidarity with Walmart workers for a very simple reason: hardworking people deserve to be able to get by,” said Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. “But as people across the nation learn about Walmart’s poverty wages, dangerous working conditions and illegal retaliation, outrage is growing. Our members will be out in full force on Black Friday.”

“Walmart workers deserve respect, dignity and fair wages,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice. “This is a moral issue that Walmart can easily afford to address, but they have refused. And as we enter a season of giving, members of every faith will join the thousands of people on Black Friday calling on Walmart to give workers what they deserve: a minimum of $25,000 a year for full-time work and the freedom to speak out without retaliation. It’s time for Walmart to make a change – and we won’t slow down until they do.”

In addition to strikes and protests, Walmart workers are organizing online and conducting outreach in neighborhoods across the country ahead of Black Friday. Chicago worker Charmaine Givens-Thomas recently launched an online petition asking President Obama to meet withworkers who’ve been calling for change at Walmart. Earlier this month, workers unveiled an online portal, www.associatevoices.org, which allows associates to step forward and ask customers and community members to support them by holding Black Friday events at their stores. In less than a week after beginning topromote the site, more than 170 cities have requested a Black Friday rally.

“The sheer size and scope of protests on Black Friday reflects the country’s reaction to Walmart’s treatment of its workers and illegal retaliation against those who speak out,” said Joseph Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “Workers are standing up as never before, emboldened by a broad coalition of allies and supporters, to send a clear message to Walmart that they won’t be silenced.”

This year’s Black Friday will be even larger than 2012, when 30,000 workers and supporters participated in strikes and protests. Since then, calls for change at the country’s largest retailer and employer have intensified, putting Walmart on the defensive. Citing low wages, manipulative scheduling, understaffing and unsafe working conditions, members of Congress, economic and policy experts, environmentalists, shareholders and financial analysts are pointing to practices that Walmart must end to improve jobs, strengthen the economy — and boost the company’s bottom line.

“Students across the country are joining this unprecedented mobilization because we reject the Walmart model of low-wage,part-time and unstable employment,” said Leewana Thomas of United Students Against Sweatshops. “These jobs used to pay a living wage. Now, they’re all that’s available, and they don’t pay enough to support repaying student loans, much less raising children and providing for a family.”

Emboldened by CEO disclosures that as many as 825,000 Walmart associates are paid less than $25,000 a year, workers across the country have gone on strike in recent weeks, no longer willing to wait to demand an end to illegal retaliation. In Los Angeles, workers went on a two-day strike that culminated in the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against Walmart, and last week, workers in Seattle and Chicago joined them in walking off their jobs.

“With more than $17 billion in profits, Walmart can – and should – pay its workers a minimum wage of $25,000,” said Linda Meric, executive director of 9to5. “Working families need the security of knowing that full-time work won’t relegate them to poverty, and our economy needs families who have that financial security. Black Friday isn’t just the largest shopping day of the year; it’s a chance to show the strength of the movement towards building an economy that values hard work.

Leading up to Black Friday 2012, Walmart and managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, spokesperson for the company, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday. This year, Walmart will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, forcing many employees to work through the holiday night.

“Black Friday’s protests are yet another sign of the courage of these workers, especially in light of Walmart’s record of illegal retaliation and climate of fear they have created,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization. “Their bravery is the reason so many are rallying behind them in one of the largest mobilizations in recent memory. They’re fighting for all of us.”

 

For more information on Black Friday protests, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation and see photos at @ChangeWalmart, #WalmartStrikers and changewalmart.tumblr.com.

 

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NLRB Moves Forward Against Walmart’s Illegal Firings

Walmart workers scored an important victory yesterday when the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it would issue a complaint finding that Walmart unlawfully retaliated against workers who went out on strike.

In a finding that Walmart violated the law, the NLRB General Counsel, Richard Griffin, cleared the way for a hearing over Walmart’s unlawful retaliation against those who speak out. Following an extended strike in June, Walmart fired or disciplined more than 65 workers. Walmart claimed that the workers had violated attendance policies, despite being notified that the workers were on strike.

“It was always very clear why Walmart fired me. This wasn’t about an attendance policy. It was about making an example out of me that would intimidate my co-workers, and keep them from speaking out,” said Brandon Garrett, a former Walmart employee in Baton Rouge.

“The real victory is that Walmart can no longer intimidate their workers with illegal retaliation,” Garrett said. “Without their threats, our movement is going to grow faster than ever.”

In stores across the country, OUR Walmart members are reporting a new surge of energy following yesterday’s board action.

“So many Associates at my store were scared to speak out after they saw the way that Walmart retaliated against me,” said Gerry Paladan. “But now they see that the government is willing to act against Walmart when it unlawfully retaliates against those of us who speak out. This just makes us stronger.”

This complaint is fueling momentum for what promises to be the biggest Walmart action in history on Black Friday. Already, workers have risked their livelihoods by protesting, striking, and engaging in civil disobedience to stand up for themselves, their families and all Walmart workers. Now all Walmart workers can openly exercise their freedoms of speech, assembly and association knowing that the government will hold Walmart accountable for its unlawful retaliation.

You can support the workers by visiting BlackFridayProtests.org.

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Past Headlines

  • America’s Retail Union Stands with Striking Walmart Workers UFCW
  • California Walmart Store Workers Go Out on Historic Strike In These Times
  • Dallas-Area Walmart Workers on Strike! Inspired by striking Walmart store workers in LA, more workers walk off the job in the Dallas area to stand against Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers who spoke out.
  • End the Cover Up and Corruption The Nation
  • In Wake Of Protests, Walmart Workers Find More Hours Within Reach Huffington Post
  • Labor takes Aim at Walmart – Again The Nation
  • Largest Civil Disobedience In Walmart History Leads To More Than 50 Arrests Huffington Post
  • Pressure on SEC to Implement Rule Disclosing CEO to Median Worker Pay ABC News
  • Some Walmart Workers Want Better Wages, Affordable Benefits USA Today
  • Under Pressure, Walmart Upgrades Its Policy for Helping Pregnant Workers Washington Post
  • Walmart Blacklisted By Major Pension Fund over Poor Labor Practices Huffington Post
  • Walmart Breaks Tradition by Changing Role of Its Greeters Bloomberg
  • Walmart In LA: Chinatown Store Protesters Say Walmart Employees Rely On Welfare The Huffington Post
  • Walmart Strike: Over 70 LA Workers Walk Off The Job In First-Ever Strike Against Retailer HuffPost Los Angeles
  • Walmart strikes spread to more states Salon
  • Walmart workers on strike Salon
  • Walmart Workers Try the Nonunion Route New York Times
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    Hear from OUR Associates

    “I'm standing up to Walmart because I want a safe workplace.”
    Barbara Gertz, Colorado
    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. Judges have preliminarily enjoined non-Associates who are part of the UFCW International or OUR Walmart from entering Walmart property in Arkansas (read the order here), Florida (read the order here), Texas (read the order here), Colorado (read the order here) and Maryland (read the order here). A California judge has enjoined non-associate agents of the UFCW and OUR Walmart from engaging in certain activities inside CA Walmart stores. Click here for a copy of the order.