March 30, 2011

ADVISORY: Walmart Organizer Joining White House Women

WHAT: Press availability with Ernestine Bassett – a Laurel, Maryland Walmart Associate who is working to organize her workplace, after her participation at Monday’s White House event on women and organizing.

Event also streaming live at 9:00am EDT, viewable at or

WHEN: Approximately 10:30 EDT, Monday, March 28, 2011

WASHINGTON – Monday morning at 9:00am EDT, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the White House and Department of Labor are hosting a Women’s History Month forum with women workers and organizers, discussing their courageous roles in organizing their workplaces.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls will be joined by women who are currently working to organize their workplaces, including Ernestine Bassett, a Walmart Associate from Laurel, Maryland.  A significant majority of Walmart’s hourly Associates are women.

“”As a retired CWA member, I understand there is strength in numbers. I know first hand the pride that comes with being part of a union. That’s why I am committed, despite significant intimidation from my employer, to winning that same respect for my fellow associates at this county’s largest private employer, Walmart,”” said Bassett.

On March 25, 1911, one hundred years ago, 146 garment workers – most of them young women and girls – died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.  A seminal event in the United States labor movement, public pressure after the fire spurred critical and long overdue workplace safety reforms. This compelling history highlights the critical need to ensure worker safety and labor standards for all workers. It is also a story of women who were seeking to improve their workplaces and lives by organizing– the same action many women are taking up today in the workplace.

The White House event is not open to the press, but Ernestine Bassett will be available for interviews after the discussion.

Jennifer Stapleton, Assistant Director of the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Making Change at Walmart campaign said, “”Ernestine Bassett is a profile in courage – working to organize her store despite intimidation by her employer, Walmart.  The role of our campaign, Making Change at Walmart, is to stand with workers like Ernestine, who are organizing for respect in the workplace.  We’re looking forward to her participation and the discussion.”

Casie Yoder – (202) 223-3111 x1451 /