UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici greets the Massachusetts Walmart associates who joined the Maryland associates at DC's Florida Ave. Baptist Church for a pep rally/breakfast. The group will be teaming up with the other Walmart associates in Atlanta, who are traveling up from Miami and Orlando, in the coming days before heading to Bentonville. Photo by Karlyn Williams.

This morning was the kick off for the next two weeks of action leading up to Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, Ark. Labor and community groups gathered in support in D.C. at Florida Ave. Baptist Church for a pep rally and breakfast to send off Maryland and Massachusetts Walmart associates who are also members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). After an opening prayer by Reverend Dr. Edwin Jones from Living Faith Baptist Church, the all women social justice a cappella group, Song Rise, gave an inspirational performance by serenading the attendees with “aint gonna let no Walmart, turn me around” and “aint gonna let injustice, turn me around.”

The Maryland and Massachusetts members will be joined in Bentonville by other OUR Walmart members from around the country who, together, are taking their concerns to executives and shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Bentonville. In the spirit of the civil rights movement, the “Ride for Respect” is a weeklong, nationwide caravan during which workers and supporters will be voicing the direct impact that Walmart is having on their lives and our economy – on the road and online. Over the next five days, the Ride for Respect will stop in nearly 30 cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Miami, Orlando, DC, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Denver, before arriving in Bentonville on Saturday.

One of the speakers at the event was UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici.

We all know that Walmart doesn’t just lead the United States, Walmart leads the world in profits, employment and now we would like to see Walmart lead the world in the way it treats its workers,” said Federici.

“You all are our heroes,” said Federici addressing the Walmart associates in the room. “The courage, sacrifice and pure will you all demonstrate is one to be admired.”

On they're way! Photo by Karlyn Williams.

OUR Walmart members from Laurel, Md. Cindy Murray and Barbara Elliot took the microphone at the front of the room to offer their gratitude.

“We are one together, we couldn’t do this alone and we couldn’t do this with out you, our community,” said Murray.

“Thank you for standing with us, giving us courage to stand up and take action,” said Elliot. “We are family, we are together and we will not be separated!”

On Friday, June 7 the annual shareholder meeting will take place and while those OUR Walmart members in Bentonville so will OUR Walmart members here in the DMV. Stay tuned for action alerts!