October 16, 2014
If the Waltons fail to respond, protestors promise to return to Walmart stores on Black Friday
**Follow the conversation at #Fightfor15, @ForRespect, www.blackfridayprotests.org**
NATIONWIDE – Workers from 1695 Walmart stores in all 50 states are calling for the company to publicly commit to raise pay to $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time work in a newly launched petition that they are delivering to Walmart owners, the Waltons, today. Despite helping the company build $16 billion in annual profits, the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, keeping them from being able to support their families on such low pay.
“Walmart workers know that $15 an hour and full-time work is more than fair for the work we do to make the Waltons mega-billionaires. Now, I am only paid $10.10 an hour, which doesn’t cut it. My car was recently repossessed because I couldn’t afford monthly payments, and it is a daily nightmare trying to find transportation. How am I supposed to get ahead with $6 in my pocket that’s supposed to last two weeks until my next pay day?” said Cantare Davunt, a customer service manager from Apple Valley, Minnesota.
Workers are signing the petitions in their stores and online. In Oregon, two OUR Walmart members drove from store to store to gather signatures from excited workers across the state.
The growing support for the petition comes as OUR Walmart members are reporting increases in hours after they have publicly called for better scheduling at their stores.
OUR Walmart member Richard Reynoso, who sent a letter to Walmart about the new dress code policy, not only pushed the company to live up to its Buy America commitment with the new vests; his manager gave him full-time hours in response to his concerns about affording new clothing on his low pay.
“Walmart heard the calls of my coworkers and me. It’s an important step that the new vests will be made in America,” said Sal Fuentes, a 7-year associate from Duarte, California. “Having full-time hours is letting me go to the doctor and buy my daughter new clothes for school—and dress code items. But when my coworkers are skipping meals and relying on erratic, part-time schedules, more needs to be done. All associates need $15 an hour and consistent, full-time work so we can build futures for our kids.”
OUR Walmart members have won similar hours victories—through petitions and members meeting with managers—in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Florida, Southern California, Louisiana and Chicago. In Dallas, three OUR Walmart members were working full-time hours but weren’t given full-time status. After the workers went as a group to management, they were given full-time status and pressured management to make 14 other workers full-time. In the San Francisco Bay Area, after OUR Walmart members circulated a petition in response to the company cutting hours for ten workers, management restored the workers’ hours.
The wins come at a time when Walmart—the standard-setter for jobs in the retail industry—is getting attention for erratic, part-time scheduling that keeps workers from getting the hours they need, holding down second jobs, arranging child care, going to school or managing health conditions.
OUR Walmart members also convinced the company earlier this year to change its pregnancy policy to accommodate workers on the job with pregnancy-related disabilities. Walmart made the change after OUR Walmart members who are also shareholders submitted a shareholder resolution to the company.
Though OUR Walmart members continue to make an impact at the country’s largest employer, many workers depend on food stamps and other taxpayer-supported programs to support their families. Workers and taxpayers are increasingly frustrated by the Waltons’ choice to keep working families in poverty while they live a life of luxury. While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families on their low pay, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth. Walmart brings in $16 billion in annual profits.
“OUR Walmart members are making tremendous strides at the country’s largest employer,” said Bertha Lewis, president and founder of the Black Institute. She will join workers and taxpayers in New York City today to deliver the petition directly to Alice Walton. “But when the owners of Walmart—the Waltons—let workers go hungry while they dodge taxes and build their enormous wealth, something is shamefully wrong. Unless there’s a public commitment from the Waltons and Walmart to raise pay and provide full-time work, I will join thousands of Americans to protest at Walmart stores on Black Friday.”
Following the announcement, Walmart workers and taxpayers plan to deliver the petition directly to the Waltons—the richest family in the country and owners of Walmart—in New York and Washington, DC today. The group joins a growing number of Americans who say the Waltons are driving the income inequality problem and could decide tomorrow to stop stealing from workers and taxpayers who just want a fair shot. Workers and community members also delivered the petition to Walmart chair Rob Walton in Phoenix, AZ yesterday.
A report released earlier this year by Americans for Tax Fairness showed that by dodging taxes, exploiting loopholes and taking advantage of taxpayer subsidies, Walmart and the Waltons received an estimated $7.8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies in 2013. And while taxpayers struggle to stretch paychecks, the richest family in the country has avoided an estimated $3 billion in taxes by using specialized trusts to dodge estate taxes.
National public policy organization Demos released a report this yearshowing low-pay and erratic scheduling keep millions of hard-working Americans—particularly women—near poverty. The report finds that establishing a new wage floor equivalent to $25,000 per year for fulltime, year round work at retail companies employing at least 1,000 workers would improve the lives of more than 3.2 million female retail workers and lift 900,000 women and their families directly out of poverty or near poverty.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering 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 Walmart employees.