News and Updates
March 12, 2018
The actions included a human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala on Feb. 28, as well as a press conference on March 1 at the office of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with Yvonne Gonzales, a former Walmart who told her story of being denied light duty at work while pregnant.
The actions were preceded with a joint letter from MCAW and UFCW Secretary-Treasurer Esther Lopez to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart. MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, and lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers.
In addition, MCAW launched a petition asking McCarthy, Rees and Meyers to stand with women and denounce Walmart. The petition has generated over 9,800 signatures. You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
February 26, 2018
On Feb. 7, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) and UFCW International Secretary-Treasurer Esther López sent a joint letter to Melissa McCarthy, Dee Rees, and Nancy Meyers, urging them to stand up for the rights of working women and end their Academy Awards partnership with Walmart.
The letter was in response to the three prominent female celebrities’ partnership with Walmart to produce the company’s television commercials that will air during the Academy Awards ceremony on March 4. As part of the effort to highlight Walmart’s track record, MCAW also published a full-page ad in Variety magazine.
“While at face value this would seem to represent a positive campaign, we urge to you look at the facts about Walmart’s past actions that reflect on its values. Values that have had a negative impact on countless women and their families, and that send a terrible message as to what behavior is acceptable if we are serious about social equality and justice,” said López in the letter to the three Hollywood filmmakers.
The Variety ad, which includes a graphic of the Oscar Award hiding its face, lists several reasons and facts as to why Walmart is an unfriendly workplace for women, families, and pregnant workers, and details Walmart’s scrutiny towards some women of color shoppers and mistreatment of some LGBTQ employees.
Starting this week, MCAW will begin a series of on the ground actions in Los Angeles, including human bill boarding outside a pre-awards gala Wednesday evening and a press conference on Thursday with a former Walmart worker who was mistreated while pregnant and working at Walmart.
You can sign a petition in support of this campaign here.
January 8, 2018
With Santa’s help, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) launched a series of strike actions at Walmart stores across the country in December to protest the retail giant’s refusal to provide its 1.5 million workers with holiday pay. The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were held in 13 cities, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Portland, Cincinnati and Memphis. At each action, Santa and his holiday helpers made all those who love Christmas aware of Walmart’s “no holiday pay” policy.
Walmart eliminated holiday pay in 2016, replacing it with a policy where workers accrue paid time off based on hours worked. Under this policy, a new part-time Walmart worker has to work 33 hours to get just one paid hour off, which could take weeks to accrue given Walmart’s inconsistent scheduling. Holiday pay, for those who work on the holiday, typically includes a premium above and beyond what they are paid hourly. And, in the case of many union retail workers, they are given holiday pay even if they don’t work that day.
“Santa Claus is on strike for one simple reason: It’s time Walmart do the right thing and provide holiday pay for its 1.5 million hard-working men and women – the same holiday pay it used to provide in 2015 before it decided to “Grinch” its workers,” said MCAW Director Randy Parraz. “To be very clear, this initiative is about more than Santa Claus and Christmas, it’s about the values that the holidays represent and which Walmart has chosen to ignore.”
The “Santa Claus on Strike” actions were the second phase of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” MCAW’s holiday campaign has included grassroots events at Walmart stores, targeted paid media, including two national TV ads, aggressive social media, and outreach to civic and community leaders, all with the important goal of having Walmart end its policy of refusing to provide holiday pay to its workers.
“Walmart earns millions of dollars from not paying its workers holiday pay – this is wrong and it must stop. The extra pay millions of other American workers earn during the holidays make a difference, and Walmart workers deserve no less,” said Parraz.
December 4, 2017
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) released a 30-second TV commercial on Nov. 22 as part of its multi-pronged holiday campaign denouncing Walmart’s “war on the holidays.” The ad ran during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on local NBC affiliate markets in Sacramento, Phoenix, Madison, and Cincinnati.
The ad is part of MCAW’s six-week holiday initiative to highlight the retail giant’s “war on the holidays,” which included grassroots actions and social media efforts in Indianapolis, California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Delaware, and New York during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Coordinated actions will continue this week at Walmart locations in at least 10 cities across the U.S. to highlight Walmart’s failure to do what every responsible employer does – pay its workers holiday pay.
Up until last year, Walmart workers who worked on a holiday received their regular hourly wage plus additional pay, equal to the average daily wage in the 12 weeks leading up to the holiday. In 2016, Walmart changed its policy and eliminated holiday pay for all workers.
The script of TV ad titled “This Thanksgiving, Be Thankful That You Don’t Work For Walmart” reads as follows:
These are all real Walmart workers
Afraid to speak out publicly or show their faces.
They’re faced with a choice of working with no holiday pay on Thanksgiving
Instead of spending time with their daughter,
Or to see her grandfather,
Or to be with her four-year-old.
Hard-working Walmart workers
With no holiday pay,
And no chance for a better life.
So, this Thanksgiving, give thanks for one thing,
That you don’t work at Walmart.
You can view the ad here.
October 30, 2017
Workers at Bob’s Discount Furniture and Century 21 in New York joined UFCW Local 888 on Oct. 17.
The 33 workers at Bob’s Discount Furniture store in Brooklyn wanted to be part of UFCW Local 888 for a voice in the workplace. The workers, who sell furniture, join their over 200 brothers and sisters at six other Bob’s Discount Furniture stores in New York and New Jersey who are also members of UFCW Local 888.
“The election at Bob’s Brooklyn proved, once again, that when workers unite, they can achieve their goals despite strong employer opposition,” said UFCW Local 888 President Max Bruny. “This was our second attempt at organizing this location and kudos to our organizing team for not giving up. The key to our success has been our ability to leverage the power of our organized members at the other six locations in New York. Our Bob’s Discount Furniture members are getting involved because they understand that increased union membership directly translates into increased bargaining power.”
The 148 workers at the Century 21 store in Yonkers were also concerned about having a voice in the workplace, and wanted the same security and benefits as their over 2,000 organized brothers and sisters in New York City and New Jersey.
September 25, 2017
On Sept. 14, about 100 members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 who work in the women’s shoe department at Saks Fifth Avenue’s iconic flagship store in New York City ratified a new contract that will reverberate nationwide. The hard-fought contract repelled the company’s outrageous demands to eliminate employee commissions when a customer paid with an “earned gift card” or “Saks First” loyalty points – a change which would have slashed employee pay by up to 10 percent. This hard-fought victory is not only a win for members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102, but is also a triumph for hard-working Saks employees in stores across the country, as the company has indicated that because of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102’s arguments against these arbitrary programs, it will halt a previously planned nationwide implementation.
Under the new agreement, the company will retain the present commission structure by preserving the union employees’ 10 percent commission on sales of women’s shoes. Further, the union negotiated the right to have employees’ sales goals adjusted to account for their use of vacation and other paid time off. Finally, RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102 negotiated a contract ratification bonus for Saks’ unionized workforce.
“I am taken aback by the company’s response to our concerns about changes to the commission system and their interest in not just retaining the system in New York but for my friends and colleagues at other stores,” said Gil McGarvey, a Saks sales representative and Local 1102 shop steward and executive board member. “In all my years at Saks, never have I felt more heard by the company – and the union is the reason we were heard.”
“I am exceptionally proud of, and humbled by, the hard work and selfless dedication of our nine member negotiations team,” said Alvin Ramnarain, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 1102. “This contract is a huge win for both our members, and also for workers across the country who would have received drastic pay cuts. Saks, after speaking with its corporate partners, agreed to back off its demands, and actually informed us that because of the arguments presented at the bargaining table, they would quash this program nationwide. We are grateful that Saks understood that when they invest in their people and let them sell, their business will thrive. This is clearly a case where the union difference will have a positive effect on Saks’ profits, and that’s a win for our members and the company. What is clear today is that when workers stand together, we can win.”
September 19, 2017
On Sept. 18, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) hosted a day of campus outreach at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., as part of the “2017 Trump and Walmart Make America Worse” tour. The Notre Dame event was organized in partnership with Students for Worker Justice, Notre Dame College Democrats, and Human Rights Notre Dame, and featured educational activities and ways students can stand up for a better America against the Trump and Walmart agenda.
MCAW’s “2017 Trump and Walmart Make America Worse” tour includes stops at over 25 college campuses throughout September to expose the shared agenda of Trump and Walmart, which promotes the privatization of our public education, profits from a low-wage, debt economy, and divides our country.
August 22, 2017
On August 21, UFCW International President Marc Perrone wrote an op-ed for The Hill that details how Amazon’s growing monopoly over the retail sector has negative impacts for American workers.
EXCERPTS FROM THE OP-ED:
All of us, no matter what political leanings we have, will be impacted by Amazon’s monopolistic desire to control the retail market and replace good jobs with automation. This isn’t hyperbole.
Amazon controls a huge swath of the steadily growing online marketplace and it gives them a distinct advantage over regional and national competitors – which results in job cuts. Public filings show that Amazon played a large role in eliminating more than 50,000 jobs from Staples, Office Depot, and Best Buy. And in March, MarketWatch estimated that Amazon’s dominant growth could remove as many as 1.5 million retail jobs within five years.
All of this begs the question, if Amazon forces millions of service and retail sector jobs to be lost, if they squeeze suppliers to the bone, if they devastate commercial construction because much fewer retail spaces are built, and if they make it impossible for grocery or retail workers to earn a better life because they can no longer find work, where do elected leaders think “good American jobs” are going to come from?
You can read the full op-ed here.
August 22, 2017
The four-year contract includes wage increases and better access to more affordable health care in the newly organized stores. The new agreement also includes improved scheduling practices, more protections during layoffs, and a process for part-time employees to become full-time based on seniority.
August 21, 2017
On August 18, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) Director Randy Parraz issued a statement in response to a California court ruling that a shoplifter diversion program used by Walmart constitutes “false imprisonment and extortion.” The program used by Walmart and other California retailers is provided by Corrective Education Company (CEC).
The statement reads as follows:
“While we are glad that real justice has been served to California shoppers who have been victimized by Walmart’s use of Corrective Education Company’s program, the problem remains that the ruling does not stop Walmart, the largest retailer in the U.S., from using the offensive CEC program in other states.
“The fact that Walmart allowed a private company like CEC to embed itself inside its stores; falsely imprison; fingerprint, and document suspected shoplifters in a backroom; and then extort them for money, is beyond disgraceful.
“Walmart shoppers nationwide deserve assurance that they will not be victimized by a program that subjects them to false imprisonment and extortion if they are suspected of shoplifting. This isn’t the Wild West anymore, and its time Walmart immediately stops using the offensive CEC or similar programs in all its stores nationwide.”
In California, Walmart has put more people through CEC’s program than any other retailer in the state. According to documents filed in the case, Walmart enrolled 3,597 people in the program—a third of all CEC participants in California—as of April 2017. The court found that California retailers using the CEC program, like Walmart, were “acting in concert and are jointly liable for the extortionate conduct.”
MCAW has been closely following and speaking out against Walmart’s Restorative Justice program, which utilizes pre-charge companies like CEC in 1,500 Walmart locations nationwide. MCAW has also been working with state legislators to further investigate and take legislative action against this controversial practice.