News and Updates
June 4, 2018
Last week, Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) criticized the retail giant for its attempt to silence a majority of Walmart workers’ voices by splitting the formal shareholders meeting from the annual associate celebration so that the two events took place on different dates and at different locations.
Walmart’s decision to switch the date and location for the formal shareholders meeting is a major departure from the company’s previous shareholder meetings. Traditionally, Walmart’s formal business meeting, which includes discussing and voting on shareholder proposals, has always been conducted during the main associate celebration inside the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with over 20,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in attendance, as well as Walmart executives and shareholders.
During last year’s shareholders meeting, two Walmart workers spoke as proxies during the formal business portion, touching on low wages and poor benefits, and were received with cheers from the crowd of Walmart and Sam’s Club workers in the Bud Walton Arena. MCAW’s communications director also spoke on behalf of the Teamsters union, advocating its proposal for an independently elected board member.
This year, however, formal business took place in the smaller John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Arkansas, on May 30 which resulted in a smaller, more controlled audience and excluded thousands of Walmart workers from the meeting that included comments on the company’s low wages, inconsistent and unfair scheduling, and insufficient benefits. The annual associate celebration took place at the Bud Walton Arena on June 1.
“For the first time in Walmart shareholder meeting history, Walmart’s top 1 percent has changed the rules to exclude Walmart workers from being present during business discussions on wages and other proposals that affect them on a daily basis, further silencing the voice of its workers,” said MCAW director Randy Parraz.
Throughout the shareholders meeting, MCAW released a series of statements, fact sheets and digital ads to educate the public, as well as Walmart workers and shareholders, on Walmart’s censorship of its business meeting. Additional information about MCAW’s campaign during Walmart’s shareholders meeting is available here.
May 29, 2018
The workers were concerned about harsh treatment by management, unsafe working conditions, poor wages, and forced overtime, and wanted a voice in the workplace. Two years ago, these workers attempted to join UFCW Local 919, but were thwarted by an aggressive anti-union campaign. This time, they were determined and unwilling to listen to the company’s anti-union rhetoric and tactics, and are looking forward to negotiating their first union contract.
May 7, 2018
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) held events in Missouri and Wisconsin on April 17 to draw attention to Walmart’s practice of shifting the cost of dealing with crime in its stores to taxpayers and using a tax loophole to avoid paying property taxes.
In Missouri, MCAW held a press conference with the residents of Raytown and Independence in front of Raytown’s City Hall to highlight Walmart’s reliance on local police officers to address theft and other petty crimes at its stores, draining much-needed police resources away from the rest of the community. MCAW also announced the creation of a new citizen-led task force in Raytown, “Citizens Against Walmart Taxpayer Abuse of Police Resources,” to address this problem.
The Walmart store in Raytown has been responsible for more than 2,500 calls for police service over the last three years, including 812 calls from Nov. 1, 2016 to Oct. 31, 2017. Walmart’s Supercenter in Independence was responsible for 609 calls for police service from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017, and Walmart’s Neighborhood Market in Independence added another 160 calls for police service during that time.
“Given Walmart’s refusal to address the problem of offloading it anti-theft security costs onto communities like Raytown and Independence, citizens have decided to take action,” said Randy Parraz, national director for MCAW.
“Over 200 members of the Raytown and Independence communities have spoken on who they think should pay for police at Walmart. But since Walmart refuses to hire enough anti-theft personnel to meet what it wants and continues to drain taxpayer resources, leaving Raytown in a budget and police resource crisis, it’s time for the citizens of Raytown to take matters into our own hands,” said Raytown taxpayer and homeowner Katie Phelan.
In Wisconsin, MCAW joined Wisconsin State Senators Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Assembly member Tod Ohnstad (D- Kenosha), and homeowners Rob and Barb Pifer at the state capitol in Madison to draw attention to Walmart’s use of the “dark store” tax loophole to avoid paying its full share of property taxes. MCAW also called on Wisconsin state leadership to revisit Ringhand’s bill, A.B. 386, which attempts to close this loophole.
Big box retailers like Walmart have been using the “dark store” tax loophole to reduce their property tax rates by insisting that the assessed value of their properties is comparable to that of nearby vacant, abandoned, or “dark” big box stores. This tax loophole unfairly shifts the property tax burden to homeowners and reduces the amount of funding available for public schools.
After the event, MCAW and other members of the group delivered the “Rotten Apple Award” to Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for continuing to deny public school funding by allowing Walmart and other retailers to get away without paying their fair share in property taxes.
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.