FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
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Walmart Faces First-Ever Strikes Over its Illegal Retaliation and Attempts to Silence Associates who are Speaking out for Better Jobs
TUESDAY: Ads Supporting Warehouse Workers Blanket Arkansas Newspapers
WEDNESDAY: California and Illinois Warehouse Workers to Join Striking Walmart to Announce Further Calls for Change at Walmart from Corporate Headquarters
LOS ANGELES –As communities across the country raise their voices in calls for changes at Walmart, workers from stores throughout the Dallas-area went on strike this morning in the first-ever Walmart Associate walk-out in Dallas protesting attempts to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job.
Walmart workers from stores in Seattle, Miami, the Washington, D.C. area, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area also walked off the job.
Later today warehouse workers, community supporters, including Jobs with Justice, Communications Workers of America and others, and striking Walmart Associates will take their calls for change to Walmart’s global corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart is holding its annual financial analyst meeting. This comes days after Associates in Los Angeles walked-off the job calling for an end to the retaliation.
On Wednesday, warehouse workers will join striking workers and community supporters for a teleconference call for media to announce further steps to call for change.
WHAT: Tele-conference with Striking Walmart Workers, Community Supporters to Announce New Calls for Change
WHEN: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM EST
WHO: Striking Walmart workers from Los Angeles and Dallas areas
Walmart Associates and Workers from Walmart-Controlled Warehouses
Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League
Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization of Women
Pastor Edwin Jones, Living Faith Baptist Church and International Ministries
Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
DIAL IN: (888) 886-6603 Password: 20063#
“We cannot continue to allow Walmart’s attempts to silence and retaliate against workers continue,” said Stacey Cottongame, a striking worker from the Ennis, Texas store. Stacey is one of thousands of members of OUR Walmart, the nationwide Associate organization calling for changes at the company. “Our jobs shouldn’t be on the line because we are speaking out for better jobs and a stronger community.”
Additionally today in Bentonville, Walmart executives woke up to paid advertisements in five local papers. The ads, coordinated by consumer watchdog group SumofUs.org, and paid for by supporters of Illinois and Southern California warehouse workers. The ads feature portraits of four top Walmart executives and call on the mega retailer to take responsibility for working conditions inside its contracted warehouses.
“For too long Walmart’s executives have ignored the health and safety of its workers, but now as momentum shifts, the retail giant’s execs are seeing the effect of their ambivalence play out through strikes in their warehouses, and now a series of 11 ads blanketing their hometown newspapers,” SumOfUs.org Executive Director Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said. “They won’t be able to ignore the workers much longer.”
Walmart workers began walking off the job at 6:30 am this morning at the Ennis store and later joined Associates from the Lancaster store. Together, they met Associates at the Dallas store, who walked off the job and were joined by community supporters. The group protested outside the Dallas store with signs reading, “Stand Up, Live Better, Stop Retaliation” and “Stop Trying to Silence Us.”
Walmart workers and community leaders have been calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address take home pay so low that Associates are forced to rely on public programs to support their families and understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service. The company has not only refused to address these concerns that are affecting 1.4 million Associates across the country, it has attempted to silence those who speak out and has retaliated against workers for raising concerns that would to help the company, workers and the community.
The strike in Dallas comes days after Walmart Associates in Los Angeles held the first-ever strike against retaliation. Workers striking at Walmart controlled warehouses outside of Chicago just won an end to illegal retaliation following a 21-day strike during which clergy and community supporters were arrested by riot police during the peaceful protest. Warehouse workers in Southern California were on a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs. In advance of Walmart’s annual financial analyst meeting on October 10, OUR Walmart members shared concerns about the scheduling and staffing problems to a room full of financial analysts.
As front line Walmart workers are facing these hardships, the company is raking in almost $16 billion a year in profits, executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year. Meanwhile, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of workers and communities has been building. In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting workers, communities and our economy.
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee. In the company’s warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of dollars of goods, workers are facing rampant wage theft and health and safety violations so extreme that they have led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines. The Department of Labor fined a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondage were cited.
Financial analysts are also joining the call for Walmart to create better checks and balances, transparency and accountability that will protect workers and communities and strengthen the company. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service. A resolution proposed by Associate-shareholders to rein in executive pay received unprecedented support, and major pension funds that voted their shares against Walmart CEO and members of the board this June amounting to a ten-fold increase, and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by the Walton family against the company’s leadership.
These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for growth, particularly in urban markets. Calling the company a “bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city without addressing labor and community relations’ problems. This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped would be its first location in New York. In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the city after facing significant community opposition.