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Black Friday Round Up: Calls for $15 and Hour, Full Time Work at Walmart Sweep Country

141128_DallasWalmartProtest068NATIONWIDE – Tens of thousands of Americans protested at 1,600 Walmart stores across the country on Friday, calling on the company to pay associates a minimum of $15 an hour and provide full-time work. The broad group said the country’s largest employer and the Waltons—Walmart’s majority owners—are abusing their power and hurting American families by allowing Walmart to violate workers’ rights. While the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart brings in more the $16 billion in annual profits; and the Walton family has built up nearly $150 billion in wealth 

Walmart workers—members of OUR Walmartcontinued a nationwide strike protesting the company’s illegal retaliation against associates who speak out for better jobs.

In Phoenix, Sandra Sok walked off the job Wednesday for the first time and said: “Many of us are living in deep poverty and going hungry because the Waltons won’t pay us a fair wage. When my coworkers speak out about these issues, the company tries to silence us. For all of my brothers and sisters who have experienced illegal threats, I am on strike.” Sandy is paid only $400 every two weeks and has worked at Walmart for nine years.

Reports from protests around the country include:

·         Los Angeles: Walmart workers, on strike to protest Walmart’s retaliation, and community members are continuing a 24-hour fast outside a Walmart store in protest of the hunger that Walmart and the Waltons are forcing onto many of their families.

·         Washington, DC: A live band is gearing up to support striking workers outside the District’s new Walmart, where a group ofworkers held a sit-down strike on Wednesday. This is the first time that workers at the new store in Washington and in neighboring Virginia are on strike 

·         Albuquerque: A group of “Raging Grannies” will sing to show their solidarity with workers.

·         Denver: Santa Claus, his elves, Walmart workers and hundreds of community supporters are preparing to deliver a bag of coal to Walmart. 

·         North Bergen, New Jersey: Members of the clergy are set to deliver a symbolic food bin to the store while chanting “dignity, not charity.”

Walmart workers started walking off the job on Wednesday in cities nationwide. Inspired by workers in Los Angeles who held the first-ever sit down strike in company history, associates in Washington, DC held a sit-down strike Wednesday at the new store on H Street. Workers in Washington, DC and Virginia are on strike for the first time and are joined by workers who walked off the job in cities and towns nationwide.

“The Black Friday rallies and demonstrations represent a dramatic escalation of the growing protest movement among employees of America’s largest private employer. But they also represent the vanguard of a sharp challenge to the nation’s widening economic divide and the declining standard of living among the majority of Americans,” Peter Dreier, Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College, writes in the Huffington Post. “It is sometimes difficult to recognize historical events as they unfold, but it is likely that future generations will look at these Walmart protests as a major turning point that helped move the nation in a new direction, similar to the sit-down strikes among Flint auto workers in 1937, the Woolworth lunch-counter sit-ins by civil-rights activists in 1960, and the first Earth Day in 1970, which jump-started the environmental movement.” 

“Our communities are suffering because Walmart won’t pay many of our neighbors enough so they can fill their stomachs,” said Nicole Ramirez from BAYAN – USA Pacific Northwest, an alliance of Filipino organizations. “I am out here with other Filipino youth and students supporting these brave Walmart workers who are on strike for their right to speak out. Our community is calling for $15 an hour and full-time work because we can’t let the Waltons abuse their power and destroy American families any longer.”

Growing pressure on the company to raise pay and provide full-time work comes as an increasing number of Americans and Walmart workers point to OUR Walmart as making significant changes at the country’s largest retailer. Since last Black Friday, the company committed to raise wages for its lowest paid workersrolled out a new scheduling system that allows workers to sign up for open shiftsand improved protections for pregnant workers in response to public calls from OUR Walmart. Workers at more than 2,200 Walmart stores nationwide have signed a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing consistent, full-time hours.

The Walton family, which controls the Walmart empire, is the richest family in the U.S.—with the wealth of 43% of American families combined. While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth

Walmart workers began speaking out last week about the severe hunger issues that too many of them are facing because they can’t afford groceries. A group of workers started sharing their stories on Walmart Hunger Games Tumblrafter reading about their co-workers’ struggles in a new analysis about Walmart’s role in reinforcing the hunger crisis in America.

For the past three years, Walmart workers have been raising concerns about persistent understaffing at stores and its impact on wasted food, un-stocked shelves, long check-out lines and lower sales, noting that better jobs at Walmart will improve customers’ shopping experience and strengthen the company’s bottom line. The company has reported losing up to $3 billion a year because its shelves go un-stocked. Consumers, analysts, shoppers and workers say that by improving jobs, Walmart can mend its reputation with shoppers, grow the business and help workers support their families.

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UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publicly commit to adhere 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 its employees.

Stand with DC #WalmartStrikers This Black Friday

WalmartStrikers2014Walmart pushed its way into DC by offering good jobs for DC residents, even promising $13/hour wages. In December of last year, the first two stores opened up. Now, less than one year later, Walmart associates in DC are calling on the company to pay $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours.

We need all of you – the community – to stand with Walmart associates this Black Friday in saying “no more broken promises!” Walmart needs to provide living wage jobs with full-time hours, jobs that sustain families instead of keeping them mired in poverty. Walmart needs to Respect DC!

This Black Friday, on Walmart’s biggest sales day of the year and its first Black Friday in DC, help the associates send that message. Join us and sign up here! 

Hundreds Rally & March In Support of Walmart Associates “Fight for $15” and Full Time Hours

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Report by Union City—Hundreds of labor and community activists shut down K Street on Thursday as they marched on the Walton Family Foundation’s 18th Street offices to call out the big-box giant for paying low wages while amassing huge wealth for the Walton family. “This is so empowering!” 14-year Walmart Associate Cindy Murray told Union City. “It’s not just about Walmart workers, it’s about everyone who’s underpaid, under-appreciated and overworked in America. We’re taking our country back!”

The Waltons are now worth more than 150 billion dollars, more than nearly half the workers in the country combined. A huge sign saying “Waltons are Robbing America” led the demonstration, along with dozens of Walmart workers with bullhorns. Demonstrators tried to deliver a petition from Walmart workers across the country calling on Walmart to publicly commit to raise pay to $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time work, but the foundation claimed to be closed for the day. Undeterred, the crowd of activists promised “We’ll be back!” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd that “sometimes it’s not enough to rally and march” and fifteen Walmart strikers and activists were arrested after sitting in at 18th and K Streets; in New York City, 25 were arrested during a simultaneous Walmart action there.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

Photo by Chris Garlock.

If the Waltons fail to respond, protesters promise to return to Walmart stores on Black Friday. The march was preceded by a rally at the AFL-CIO at which a number of political and community allies, including DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Maryland State Senator Roger Manno pledged their support for the “Fight for $15.”

Check out the photos from the event here! Our favorites? The aerial views of the street take over! 

You can also track the discussion from the event by searching for the hashtag #Fightfor15 on Twitter

Low-Wage Economy Exposed!

DCWalmartEventJOIN US OCTOBER 16, 2014 at 11:00a.m.at the AFL-CIO  (815 16th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20006) as we expose the low-wage economy! 

U.S. income inequality is now the highest since 1928. The pope, the president, economists and even business leaders all agree: income inequality in our country has grown to a level that is devastating our families, our economy and our businesses.

Walmart exemplifies the problems created by income inequality in this country. The Walton family, which owns the majority of Walmart, is growing its $149 billion in wealth while on average, a Walmart associate makes only $16K a year. Workers are asking for $15 an hour and consistent full- time hours.

Please RSVP here! 

Walmart Strike Comes to DC Today

A nationwide strike against Walmart comes to DC today when AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, union members, community groups and other allies march on Walmart in downtown DC, where they’ll meet up with Walmart moms who are walking off the job. The march starts at 1P at Union Station’s Columbus Circle. Walmart workers have been striking across the country this week to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers who have spoken up about inequality and gone on strike.  Walmart workers have been calling on Walmart to raise wages to $25,000 a year.  This week Walmart’s new CEO will be convening his first annual shareholders’ meeting.  “Let’s make sure that Walmart executives hear us all the way in Bentonville, Arkansas,” say strike organizers.  “Our families are going without because we’re not getting the hours we need,” said Zacola Simpson, a Walmart worker and single mother. “And when brave moms like Barbara Collins struck to end illegal retaliation and spoke out about the problems at our stores, Walmart fired her.  It’s wrong, it’s illegal, and we cannot allow this to continue.” —Report by Union City

Local Walmart Doc Crew Heads to AZ, Local Actions Planned

WalmartprotestSept5Report by Union City—“We’re in Arizona for filming this week,” reports “Can’t Take It No More!” co-producer Michael Blain. “We’re documenting workers’ stories at a series of events and actions there, and then we’re heading to Arkansas, to film with workers at and around the Walmart shareholders’ meeting.” One of the workers going to Arkansas will be Tiffany Beroid, an OUR Walmart leader at the Laurel, MD, store recently profiled in the Washington Post for her efforts to stand up to Walmart’s discriminatory pregnancy policies. “I guess Walmart didn’t like the power that its employees showed,” Beroid wrote in a letter sent to Making Change at Walmart supporters recently, “because just a few weeks after I was interviewed in the Washington Post, Walmart fired me with a string of flimsy excuses.” Blain has been filming with Beroid since October 2013.  Click here for more on the “Can’t Take It No More!” Kickstarter campaign. NOTE: Events are taking place at Walmart locations across the country this week, including one in the metro Washington area, on Friday, June 6: the DC Strike Day Meet Up starts at 1P at Union Station. The Our Walmart National Strike Day action originally scheduled to start at 3P at Walmart Supercenter #2258 in Alexandria, VA has been cancelled. 

In Bowie, ‘We Deserve Better’

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 3.55.26 PMA public hearing is scheduled for February 26, 2014 at 9:30a.m. at the County Administration Building located at 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Dr. Bowie, MD. to raise awareness surrounding the expansion plan of a building a Super Walmart store in Bowie across the street from an existing Walmart store.

The exisiting Walmart is located in the Collington Plaza shopping center and according to the Rural Tier community group, that store should be upgraded instead.
“We don’t need more discount stores – we need the high quality retail we deserve!
Big box stores steal business from other stores and people lose their jobs – will the Giant at Collington Plaza survive?” The expansion of Walmart in Bowie is a threat to other retail grocery stores in the area. Show your Solidarity by…

1. Writing a letter to Councilwoman Ingrid Turner at:
County Administration Building, 2nd floor
14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 – 3070

OR
Call: 
(301) 952-3094
Fax: (301) 952-4910
e-mail: imturner@co.pg.md.us
Consider using these talking points/sample letter.

2. Signing the Petition!! This goes directly to Councilwoman Turner!

3. Attending public hearings – dates and times will be posted on www.RuralTier.Org. The first date is February 26, 2014, 9:30 am at the County Administration Building.

4. Tell your neighbors and other county residents. We Deserve Better!

5. Print a poster for your window (or your car window!)

DC Area Walmart Workers, Community Supporters Join 1,500 Protests Nationwide for Better Jobs

Local 400 shop steward from Shoppers Food & Pharmacy showed his Solidarity at the Walmart action on Black Friday. Photo by Bill Burke.

Local 400 shop steward from Shoppers Food & Pharmacy showed his Solidarity at the Walmart action on Black Friday. Photo by Bill Burke.

Community Leaders Arrested in Peaceful Civil Disobedience Call for Dignity, End to Exploitation

Nation Rallies Behind Walmart Workers; 1,500 Black Friday Rallies Mark One of Largest Mobilizations of Working Families in History

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Walmart workers and community supporters in the Washington, D.C. area today protested against Walmart—the nation’s largest retailer—joining 1,500 protests across the nation in one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history. Workers in the Washington, D.C. area were joined by tens of thousands of Americans in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Seattle, Sacramento, Miami, Minneapolis and other locations who called on Walmart to end illegal retaliation and publicly commit to improving labor standards, including providing workers with more full-time work and $25,000 a year.
At a protest at the Walmart store located on Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Va., nine people, including one Walmart worker, were arrested in an act of civil disobedience calling for an end to the exploitation of Walmart workers by their company.

_BBX0115“The support we’re seeing for Walmart workers across the country is overwhelming,” said Tiffany Beroid, who works at a Walmart store in Laurel, Md.  “I’ve worked at Walmart for two years and earn less than $25,000 a year. As a wife and mother, I’ve had to depend on food stamps to get by, and that’s unacceptable. As the largest employer in the country, Walmart can and should pay its workers a living wage.”

Many UFCW Local 400 shop stewards from Giant, Safeway and Shoppers Food and Pharmacy came out to support the Walmart workers fight for justice and respect on the job.

“This fight is our fight,” said Kuljeet Rathmore, UFCW Local 400 shop steward and member from Safeway #1417. “Walmart sets the standards for retailers across the board and as a retail food worker for 13 years I am here today show my solidarity with these brave Walmart associates, who are standing up for their rights. We’re in the thick of bargaining with Giant and Safeway and they are little by little trying to become the next Walmart by only caring about their bottom line and not the people who make their companies successful.”

WATCH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BLACK FRIDAY ACTION HERE 

Workers, emboldened by news from Walmart CEO that hundreds of thousands of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, are receiving an outpouring of national support. Responding to revelations last week that a Walmart store held a food drive for their own employees; customers, community groups and clergy are citing Walmart’s business model as they join workers at nationwide protests. The country’s largest retailer and employer, Walmart makes more than $17 billion in profit, with the wealth of the Walton family totaling over $144.7 billion – equal to that of 42 percent of Americans.

“Walmart can and should lead the way in making sure that retail jobs are good jobs—the kind that come with good benefits and wages for all workers,” said Mackenzie Baris, a field organizer with Jobs with Justice/American Rights at Work. “If Walmart would listen to—and respect—its 1.4 million workers, it could not only reverse the downward trends that have plagued the company, it could also help to rebuild our country’s economy and strengthen America’s middle class.”

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

For updates on how the actions are going around the nation follow #WalmartStrikers on Twitter!

What a Week! Check out all we’ve been up to!

Phew! We’ve had a lot going on this week (yup, and it’s only Wednesday!)
Here’s a recap of what you might have missed!
—Walmart strikers bus tour: We gave our support as they delivered a letter to their managers at the Columbia, Laurel and Capital Plaza stores. Check out the photos from the event. 

Doug Gansler and Joolene Ivey standing strong with Giant and Safeway Workers in their fight for a fair contract!

Doug Gansler and Joolene Ivey standing strong with Giant and Safeway Workers in their fight for a fair contract!

—2014 Candidate for Maryland Governor Stands Strong with Giant & Safeway Workers: As store actions continue, we had the support from Doug Gansler and his running mate Jolene Ivey at the Bowie Safeway on Tuesday morning. They braved the cold to inform customers about what’s at stake in our contract, collected pledge cards and hand delivered them to the manager on duty. Check out the coverage in the Baltimore Sun.
—We took a stand for increasing the minimum wage in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County and won! The wage will steadily increase over the next 4 years, reaching $11.50 by 2017. Check out the coverage from WJLA news. Monday, a D.C. Council committee unanimously approved a bill that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $11.50/hr. by 2016.  Details here.

Walmart Workers, Community Intensify Call for Walmart to Improve Jobs, Economy

CapPlaza1

Walmart Strikers stand outside the Capital Plaza Walmart before marching toward the store to hand deliver a letter the management.

Walmart workers along with community allies rallied outside three Washington, D.C. area Walmart stores yesterday morning, saying that with the $17 billion in annual profits, the mega-retailer can and should do more to improve jobs and the economy. Mobilizing outside of the Columbia, Laurel, and Capital Plaza Walmart stores, civil rights and community supporters, faith leaders and progressive groups joined with over two dozen Walmart workers who were on an unfair labor practice strike to hand-deliver a letter to the stores’ management calling on Walmart to end illegal retaliation, provide a minimum $25,000/year salary and offer more full-time work.

“Working at the largest employer in the country should mean making a decent living. Those days are long gone,” said Tiffany Beroid, a Walmart worker from Laurel, MD. “Walmart continues to show that it’s afraid to have real conversations about creating better jobs, but would rather scare us into silence. But change at Walmart is too important to our economy and for our families for us to stop speaking out.”

The giant retailer was hit with a series of negative reports in the weeks leading up to Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year. An Ohio store held a food drive for its own associates, the NLRB decided to prosecute Walmart for firing, disciplining and threatening striking workers, and on Monday, Walmart CEO Mike Duke announced his retirement

Check out the photos from the event on UFCW Local 400’s Facebook page! http://on.fb.me/1c8V2qX