Read

Search form

Walmart Workers Strike in 15 U.S. Cities to Demand Better Pay

Walmart Workers Strike in 15 U.S. Cities to Demand Better Pay
Fri, 9/6/2013 - by Al Jazeera
This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera America

Thousands of Walmart employees went on strike Thursday in cities across the United States, demanding better pay and protesting the firing of those who previously demonstrated against the company, the largest private employer in the country, with 1.3 million workers.

The strike comes just one week after fast-food workers staged walk-outs at fast-food restaurants in 60 U.S. cities to call for hourly pay of $15 instead of minimum wage, signaling a trend of worker unrest at non-union companies. According to strike organizers, many Walmart workers earn the minimum wage, which varies from state to state but typically hovers near $7 to $8 per hour.

In New York City, where demonstrations kicked off at 10 a.m., current and former Walmart workers protested along with advocacy and union groups. They were flanked by a band featuring a trumpet, trombone and saxophone, outside the office of Walmart board member Christopher Williams, CEO of Williams Capital Management.

Three protesters were arrested by the New York Police Department after sitting on the ground and locking arms in front of the building where Williams' office is located. They had been protesting outside the building with the aim of handing Williams a petition that organizers said had 200,000 signatures of people demanding Walmart commit to providing full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000 and reinstate workers who were fired for previously striking.

Among those arrested Thursday was Barbara Gertz, an overnight stocker at the Walmart store in Aurora, Colorado. She told Al Jazeera that many workers were illegally penalized for striking in June outside Walmart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

"When we went to Bentonville on strike in June, we wanted Walmart to hear our voices and to hear our concerns and not only did they not hear our voices, but when got back to our stores, many of us were retaliated against, were fired or we were written up and were harassed by management," Gertz said.

She said she and others want to see Walmart change its ways.

"We want them to change. We want them to start treating their associates fairly and give them the ability to support their families. When you get a full-time job, you get that to be able to have a house or home and support your family," she said. "You can't do that at Walmart."

According to a news release from the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which back the strike, the workers are seeking a "wage floor" of $25,000 per year.

Strike organizers also charge that the company benefits from federal social-welfare programs by paying wages too low for workers to live on or by not providing health insurance, forcing employees to sign up for food stamps or Medicaid.

The organizations said the strikes follow Walmart's failure to meet a Sept. 1 deadline for reinstating employees fired for leading protests against the company. Strike organizers say that the firings violate U.S. labor law, which prevents reprisals from employers against workers who attempt to form a union.

"Rather than providing good jobs that American workers need and deserve, Walmart is trying to silence workers who are standing up with their co-workers to live better and spending its time and money trying to deny workers a decent day's pay," the press release said.

Walmart denies the labor organizers' charge that workers make minimum wage, saying that the average wage at the company is about $12 per hour, and that most employees work full-time and receive health insurance.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesperson for the company, said the workers allegedly fired for protesting the company were let go for attendance reasons.

"Many of these associates did not show up for work without any notice. It's pretty disrespectful to their co-workers, because it disrespects those who now have to pick up that extra work," Lundberg told Al Jazeera.

The release cites a congressional study finding that Walmart receives a government subsidy in the form of welfare for its workers, but Lundberg decried the report as "politically motivated" and subject to flawed methodology because it only examined one Walmart store in Wisconsin.

Other cities where Walmart employees went on strike on Thursday included Baton Rouge, La., Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, Fla., Sacramento, Calif., San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Thursday's action was expected to be the largest strike since Black Friday of 2012 which spanned at least nine cities, organizers said.*

*Walmart Protesters Arrested In NYC While Trying To Deliver Petition

By Lauren Evans, Gothamist

Three Walmart workers were arrested this morning after attempting to deliver a petition to the offices of Christopher Williams, an NYC-based member of the mega chain's board of directors and CEO of the investment bank Williams Capital Management Trust.

According to the advocacy group Making Change At Walmart, the petition demanded that "the company publicly commit to provide full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000, reinstate workers who were fired for striking and agree to stop all retaliation against workers calling for better jobs." The petition reportedly garnered more than 200,000 signatures.

The protest is spanning 15 cities around the country, including San Francisco, where participants plan to gather outside the apartment of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was appointed to the company's board of directors in 2012, USA Today reports.

The average annual salary of a Walmart sales associate is just $15,500, according to the group's website, and the average hourly wage is just $8.81.

Wal-Mart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan denied that figure, telling the paper that the company's average for full-time associates is around $12.80.

Originally published by Al Jazeera America

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Tony Atkinson, wealth inequality, income inequality, Obamacare, affordable healthcare, gutting healthcare, Republican agenda, Donald Trump, tax cuts for the rich

With a new Congress and White House committed to wealth’s concentration, we’ll sorely miss the scholar who dedicated his life to documenting wealth’s maldistribution.

Nicaragua renewable energy, clean energy revolution, solar power, wind power, renewables revolution

In 2012, Nicaragua invested the fifth highest percentage worldwide of its GDP in developing renewable energy, and now it is reaping the benefits.

Greek healthcare crisis, Greek austerity crisis, Greek austerity policies, Syriza party

Due to imposed austerity cuts, 850 medical clinics have closed, 10,000 beds have been shut down and 30,000 healthcare professionals were removed from frontline positions – while those who remained saw wages cut by 50 percent.

Zapatistas, EZLN, Mexico indigenous populations, Chiapas struggle, direct democracy, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés

“This council proposes to govern this country,” the Zapatista Army of National Liberation said.

creative activism, Act Out, 1984, George Orwell, Ministry of Truth, NDAA, Global Engagement Center, Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, red scare, blame russia, James Clapper, NSA, national intelligence, CIA, Russia hacks, mainstream media, corp

This week on Act Out!, war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength—and it's still Russia's fault.

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago
anti-Trump protests, Inauguration Day protests, anti-Trump movement, Socialist Alternative, Students for a Democratic Society, student walkouts, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, authoritarian rule

The protests against Donald Trump on his Inauguration Day could stand out as one of the largest counter-inaugural protests in U.S. history – and organizers insist this is only the beginning of a broader resistance movement.

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago

“It’s important that everybody go there. This will have an effect.” -Michael Moore

Posted 6 days 4 hours ago
Spectra Energy, Spectra pipeline, Indian Point nuclear power plant, Andrew Cuomo, Martin Stolar, National Lawyers Guild, pipeline spills, pipeline disasters, AIM pipeline, Resist Spectra, Sane Energy Project, Algonquin Pipeline Expansion

The defendants' argument hinges on the interpretation of “imminent danger” – in this case, proving that the pipeline construction blockade was necessary to prevent a disaster far more harmful to the public's interest than lost corporate profit.

Posted 6 days 4 hours ago
Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.

Posted 5 days 15 hours ago
Nicaragua renewable energy, clean energy revolution, solar power, wind power, renewables revolution

In 2012, Nicaragua invested the fifth highest percentage worldwide of its GDP in developing renewable energy, and now it is reaping the benefits.

anti-Trump protests, Inauguration Day protests, anti-Trump movement, Socialist Alternative, Students for a Democratic Society, student walkouts, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, authoritarian rule

The protests against Donald Trump on his Inauguration Day could stand out as one of the largest counter-inaugural protests in U.S. history – and organizers insist this is only the beginning of a broader resistance movement.

Greek healthcare crisis, Greek austerity crisis, Greek austerity policies, Syriza party

Due to imposed austerity cuts, 850 medical clinics have closed, 10,000 beds have been shut down and 30,000 healthcare professionals were removed from frontline positions – while those who remained saw wages cut by 50 percent.

wealth inequality, income inequality, Fat Cat Wednesday, corporate pay, executive pay, National Living Wage, U.K. anti-austerity protests

Findings from the High Pay Centre show jaw-dropping levels of inequality in Britain, where executives earning £1,000 per hour exceeded the average U.K. annual salary of £28,000 by lunchtime on Jan. 3 – dubbed Fat Cat Wednesday.

Bayou Bridge Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, #NoDAPL, Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southeast Louisiana Protection Authority-East, pipeline spills, Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, Atchafalaya Basin, Lousiana oil industry, Florida Gas

Opponents of a proposed pipeline through Louisiana’s fragile Atchafalaya Basin have vowed to halt its construction, starting with a vocal protest at a Jan. 12 public meeting being attended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baton Rouge.