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May 19, 2015

Walmart Worker-Shareholder Reacts to Q1 Earnings Report

Overview of Walmart’s first quarter sales report:

  • WMT reports 1st quarter results below expectations
  • EPS was $1.03 vs an expected $1.05; revenue was $114 billion vs an expected $116.2 billion
  • Same store sales of 1.1% at WMT US and just 0.4% at Sam’s Club were below the 1.5% gain expected for both segments
  • Promised investments in labor were disappointing, and amounted to less than analysts had expected for the quarter

OUR Walmart member and Walmart shareholder Teresa Adams of Pico Rivera, Calif., today, issued the following statement in response to Walmart’s Q1 earnings report:

“Walmart’s weak earnings report this morning is telling, but it’s nothing new for the countless number of associates nationwide who have been calling for a change to the company’s low-road, low-wage business model over the past few years. When workers who are committed to the company’s success can’t secure much-neeWM RUS_Fotorded pay and hours, they aren’t the only ones who suffer. Customers lose, and so do shareholders. Shelves aren’t properly stocked. Check-out lines are long. And the company’s reputation takes a hit when its employees don’t make enough money to stay off government assistance programs, At a time when Walmart needs to be investing more in its employees and stores, it closes four apparently profitable stores and lays off a reported 2,200 workers, while grasping at straws to justify the move. I think it’s no coincidence that OUR Walmart members were active in one of those stores.

“My fellow OUR Walmart members, like Shannon Henderson who made about $13,000 last year working as many hours as Walmart would let her, and I have been working to offer solutions to the problems that plague the company and its operations. CEO Doug McMillon has responded to one of our demands by raising wages for those of us at the bottom of the ladder, but it’s not enough. We all need higher wages and, even more importantly, we need more hours for ourselves and for our customers.

 “OUR Walmart Associate-shareholders are going to the upcoming Walmart annual shareholder meeting, where we have submitted two shareholder proposals. We are encouraging shareholders to use their votes to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and more hours for workers.

 “It’s long past time for Walmart and the Waltons to take an honest and candid look at the concerns raised by investors, shareholders and customers. Treating associates with respect and providing adequate staffing and hours are fundamental to putting Walmart on the path to strong sales and success. And that’s the direction Walmart needs to go.”

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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.

 

May 14, 2015

CEO Pay Continues to Rise; Walmart Workers Prepare to Call for Change at Shareholders Meeting

CEOs paid 373 times average worker pay, according to 2015 Executive PayWatch

ceopayWASHINGTON, DC—As Americans rally behind initiatives to raise pay for working families, CEO pay for major U.S. companies has skyrocketed. According to new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, CEO pay increased nearly 16 percent in 2014, while Walmart and the Walton family continue to drive inequality nationwide.

The Executive PayWatch website, the most comprehensive searchable online database that tracks CEO pay, showed that in 2014, the average production and nonsupervisory worker made approximately $36,000 per year, while S&P 500 company CEO pay averaged $13.5 million per year – a ratio which has grown to 373-to-1. Meanwhile, a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage is paid just $15,080 a year, well below the poverty level for a family.

 Mega-retailer Walmart, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. CEO Douglas McMillon is paid $9,323 an hour. A new Walmart employee making $9 an hour would have to work 1036 hours to earn what McMillon makes just 60 minutes. PayWatch also notes that six Walton family members have more wealth than 43 percent of America’s families combined.

“I made about $13,000 last year, working as many hours as the company would let me,” said Shannon Henderson, a Walmart employee and mother of two in Sacramento, California. “I work for the richest company in the world, and I can’t support my family without public assistance. That’s not right, and that’s why I’m not going to stop fighting for $15 and full time.”

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month, when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Among the stores Walmart closed is the Pico Rivera, California Supercenter, the first store to go on strike in 2012, as well as the site of the first sit-down strike prior to last Black Friday. Walmart has failed to offer any evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores.

In light of the data released by Executive PayWatch, Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer. As Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting approaches, workers have announced their intention to propose a shareholder resolution that would rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

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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 publicly 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.

May 7, 2015

Celebrating UFCW Moms: Have a Union-Made Mother’s Day!

Make an e-card like this one at mamasday.org

Make an e-card like this one at mamasday.org

We’ve been celebrating UFCW members who are moms all this week by sharing their stories and highlighting the great work they do. Another way to celebrating UFCW moms? Make sure her gift is union-made! With the help of Union Plus and Labor 411, we’ve got plenty of ideas for Mom’s gift this year, all made by UFCW brothers and sisters!

You can also use you Union Plus discount to save 25% on hand delivered gift baskets from Telefora, as well as on their beautifully arranged bouquets.

For other Union Plus savings on Mother’s Day gifts, click here.

Get Mom a gift card to Macy’s, H&M, Bloomingdale’s, Modell’s, or CVS–where she’s sure to be greeted by the hard-working UFCW brothers and sisters who work there!

 

UFCW-made beauty products:

Avon

Caress skin care

Dove beauty care

Lander personal care

L’Oreal

 

UFCW-made sweets:

Ghirardelli Chocolates

 

UFCW-made Apparel:

Naturalizer Shoes

Carhartt Products

 

UFCW-made recipes to make for mom:

Empire Kosher Ultimate Rosh Hashana Chicken (Thank UFCW members for Empire Kosher)

Ingredients: 1 Empire Kosher 8 Piece Cut Up Chicken, 1 tablespoon Empire Kosher Rendered Chicken Fat, Salt, pepper to taste, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 garlic clove, minced, 1 shallot, minced, ¼ cup pomegranate juice (all natural unsweetened cranberry juice is also good), ¼ cup low salt Kosher chicken broth, 1 granny smith apple, cored and diced into ½” pieces, ¼ cup honey

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Season lightly with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat rendered fat in a Dutch oven or large 12″ skillet on medium high heat until smoking. Add 4 chicken pieces to the skillet and brown on both sides for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from skillet to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining 4 pieces of chicken.
  4. Leaving the juices in the pan, add the garlic and shallots, stirring and browning until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the pomegranate juice and broth, stir, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and add apple pieces.
  5. Simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes, until the volume is reduced by half.  Add honey to the skillet and stir into sauce.
  6. Place the browned chicken pieces in a casserole dish large enough to accommodate all 8 pieces  Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked through (160°F for white meat and 175°F for dark meat).

Linguine Ham Primavera (Thank UFCW members for Farmland Ham)

Ingredients: 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 3/4 pound Farmland Ham, Julienne Ham Strips, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, 3 cups fresh assorted vegetables lightly steamed, 2 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons flour, 4 oz. uncooked linguine, 3 cups lowfat milk, 1 clove garlic crushed, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Instructions:

  1. Cut ham into thin strips. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in large saucepan. Add garlic and cook until tender. Blend in flour. Stir in milk, basil, oregano and pepper; heat until mixture begins to bubble. Add vegetables and ham. Cover and simmer over low heat until mixture is thoroughly heated.
  3. Add pasta and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired, before serving.

Turkey Mignons with Blue Cheese and Balsamic Glaze (Thank UFCW members for Butterball poultry products)

Ingredients: 1 cup balsamic vinegar, 4 Butterball® Turkey Mignons, 6 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles

Recipe Instructions:

  1. For balsamic glaze, heat balsamic vinegar in small saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently, until it is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 12 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Prepare mignons according to package directions for grilling.
  3. Top each with 1-1/2 tablespoons blue cheese. Return to grill 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top each with 1 teaspoon of balsamic glaze.

All this week, Union Plus is also thanking union moms everywhere for the way they support our union families. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for other highlights of union moms everywhere!

April 21, 2015

Following Retaliatory Closures, Walmart Workers Take Legal Action

Supported by elected officials, clergy and community members, group files for injunctive relief with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of workers

Local school board launches resolution calls on Walmart to consider economic impact to local community, transfer and reinstate workers

11174655_1092389480778107_6579073321344252761_oNATIONWIDE —Yesterday Pico Rivera Walmart workers with OUR Walmart filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response to Walmart’s retaliatory store closings. Last week, Walmart abruptly closed 5 Walmart stores in four states due to an alleged national plumbing emergency. However, city officials point out that the company has obtained no permits to begin repairs in any of these locations. Walmart has failed to offer any evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Among the five stores was the Pico Rivera, California Walmart Supercenter, which has been the hotbed for worker action. The store is also of symbolic important to the low-wage worker movement, as it sparked the Walmart and fast food strikes when it was the first store to go on strike in October of 2012. Workers from the store also held the first large sit-down strike and participated in civil disobedience in the weeks prior to last Black Friday.

“This is a new low, even for Walmart,” said Venanzi Luna, an eight-year Walmart worker and long-time OUR Walmart member. “It’s just so heartless to put thousands of your employees out of a job with no clear explanation on just a few hours’ notice. We know that Walmart is scared of all we have accomplished as members of OUR Walmart so they’re targeting us. Through OUR Walmart, we’re going to keep fighting back until the company gives us our jobs back. It’s unfortunate that Walmart has chosen to hurt the lives of so many people, just to try to conceal their real motives of silencing workers just like they’ve always done.”

Workers are asking the National Labor Relations Board to see injunctive relief under section 10j of the National Labor Relations Act. They are calling on the National Labor Relations Board to compel Walmart to rehire all of the workers who were terminated in all five stores and reinstate them to their own stores or transfer them without loss of pay until they can be reinstated to their stores. A 10j injunction is designed to allow the court to act quickly to remedy such extreme violations without the long delay which is anticipated for NLRB proceedings.

As the filing notes, this is not the first time Walmart has taken dramatic action to quell worker action. In June of 2014, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Walmart had violated labor law when it closed the Jonquiére, Quebec Walmart store. The workers in that store had voted to join a union, becoming the first unionized store in North America just before it closed. In 2000, butchers in a Jacksonville, Texas Walmart voted to join UFCW Local 540. Two weeks later, Walmart closed its 180 meat departments in stores nationwide and switched to prepackaged case ready meat only. More recently, Walmart fired and disciplined more than 70 workers who participated in strikes in June 2013. An Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB has found merit to claims against Walmart and additional claims are currently being prosecuted by the General Counsel of the NLRB against Walmart.

“Walmart’s choice to close one of the most vocal stores in the fight for $15 and full time is a clear and direct assault on all workers’ rights,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “As a country, we cannot sit back quietly as our nation’s largest private employer is allowed to lay off thousands of people in an attempt to silence them from speaking out for better wages, hours and respect on the job.”

Community members and elected officials have also come out in support of Walmart workers. The El Rancho Unified School District, in which the Pico Rivera store is located, will vote on a resolution in support of the laid off Pico Rivera Walmart workers. The resolution “calls on Walmart to consider the economic hardship their decision has caused for their 530 Associates from the Pico Rivera store and their families and commit to transfer all of the Associates to surrounding Walmart stores before new people are hired to fill positions in those stores…”

Other community members also attended yesterday’s press conference to call attention to the impact of Walmart’s actions on their neighborhoods, congregations and communities.

“It is a scandal against all that is righteous, though it is unfortunately not surprising, that Walmart, the economic Pharaoh who cannot see workers as people but only as expense lines, has again decreed unemployment and poverty and suffering on 530 workers here, and similar numbers in four other stores,” said local Rabbi Aryeh Cohen. “In November, I joined other clergy and community leaders and workers in an act of civil disobedience to support the brave workers who sat down and struck in order to stand up with dignity. We then demanded $15 an hour and access to full employment. Today our demands have not changed. However, we also demand that Pharaoh rehire all 530 workers, give them priority before hiring other workers for less pay, and support the fired workers beyond the mandated 60 days.”

Workers promised that they would continue to fight the company’s retaliatory closures with bold action until the company meets their calls for reinstatement, transfer with equal pay and compensation in the interim and finally, the opportunity to return to their stores when they reopen.

“Allowing Walmart to get away with such a blatant attack on the rights of workers’ in our community would open the door for any employer to simply develop ‘plumbing issues’ whenever workers stood up for change in their workplace,” said SEIU 721 Chief of Staff Gilda Valdez. “We need to send a message to Walmart and all employers that in our community, the rights of working people must be respected. That’s why we’ll continue to stand with Walmart workers as they fight to get back to work and for change at the world’s largest private employer.”

March 24, 2015

Massachusetts, Vermont and New York Co-op Workers Gather for First Ever Co-op Worker Summit

Workers meet to discuss future of co-ops and the food industry

DSC_0029Charlemont, Mass. – Dozens of co-op workers from three states and representing six both worker- and member-owned co-ops met Saturday at the first-ever regional co-op workers summit. The event, hosted by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1459, was the first of its kind.

“Co-ops have a unique place in our economy,” said Dan Clifford, President of Local 1459. “They are businesses that have the higher purpose of serving the communities in which they operate. As the co-op movement grows, sometimes the voice of co-op workers get lost. This summit was an important step to ensure those voices are heard and that co-ops live up to their highest aspirations.”

Workers from co-ops in Western Massachusetts, New York and Vermont gathered for panels on the future of the co-op movement and their role in improving their workplaces, their communities and the food we all eat. They also heard from Frances Moore Lappé, best-selling author of Diet for a Small Planet, who spoke about the important role that co-ops and co-op workers can have in building a more sustainable global economy.

“It’s critically important that the co-op movement doesn’t leave the workers’ voice behind,” said John Cevasco, a grocery worker from Greenfield’s Market in Greenfield, Mass. and a UFCW Local 1459 member. “We found our voice at Greenfield’s by forming a union, and I know our co-op is stronger because of it.”

“Our communities need high quality, local food and good family-supporting jobs,” said Russell Ziemba, a worker from the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, N.Y. “Co-ops can play a critical role in meeting those needs if they listen to the voice of their workers. That’s why I’m glad I had the opportunity to be here and learn from other co-op workers in my region.”

The co-op workers also issued a series of collective recommendations to the regional and state food system plans, re-envisioning how the food system could serve the needs of citizens even better. They hope by injecting the voice of ground level workers and co-ops into the plan that they can make the plans both more ecologically and economically more sustainable.

 

 

March 19, 2015

Statement from UFCW International President Marc Perrone on News of Target Wage Increase

Every Retail Worker has the Right to a Decent Living, a Reliable Schedule, Quality Affordable Health Care, and Respect on the Job

WASHINGTON, D.C.Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement about the news reports on Target’s wage increase and the collective gains secured by workers in the retail industry.

“A higher hourly wage for the hard-working men and women in retail is a first step in the right direction. For far too long, our UFCW family and those outside our family who deserve a better life have been fighting for more than just higher wages. We are fighting for good benefits, a safe and just workplace, and fair scheduling that allows all workers the hard-earned right to support themselves and their family.

“While the struggle against irresponsible companies continues, I believe the momentum is growing. Bad employers who put their bottom line before the people who work to make these companies succeed must change. These families deserve better. While steps forward are positive, we will not stop our fight to raise standards, provide more hours, stable scheduling, and good jobs for all of our family.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

LivingWageSign

February 20, 2015

Statement by UFCW International President Marc Perrone on Walmart’s Wage Announcement

UFCWnews(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement about Walmart’s wage announcement:

“Walmart’s announcement yesterday that it will raise wages for 500,000 hourly associates is an important step forward for Walmart workers and their families. This is not an act of corporate benevolence. It would not have been possible without the courage of countless workers who are standing together, taking risks, and demanding wages and schedules that can support their families. Walmart is responding directly to calls from workers and their allies to pay a living wage.

Because of a strong and organized movement that includes many UFCW members, half a million Walmart workers will now get a raise. Because workers spoke out, $1 billion will now go directly into our economy instead of onto the Walton family’s balance sheet.

Walmart should know that we will continue to stand with workers and the community to be more transparent about exactly how much the company pays each of its 1.4 million associates. Today’s announcement calls to question Walmart’s long-term inconsistencies about its wage claims – even ten years ago it claimed workers were paid an average of $10 an hour.  High turnover leaves the vast majority of Walmart workers toiling at the lowest wage scales which will now pay at least $9 an hour. We know that Walmart can and should do better.

Yesterday marks a victory for Walmart workers but more importantly, a call to action for the UFCW and the entire labor movement.  The largest private employer in the nation is feeling the pressure to do better for its workers. We must seize this opportunity and keep fighting until every single worker – in retail stores, supermarkets and beyond – is paid a living wage.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternationaland www.twitter.com/ufcw.

December 10, 2014

FEDERAL LABOR BOARD JUDGE: Walmart Violated Workers’ Rights

20141128 OURWALMART Milpitas CA-9National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge Orders Walmart to Stop its Illegal Threats to Workers in One of Many Expected Decisions against Walmart

Workers, Supporters Say Walmart Must End Its Abuse of Power and Improve Jobs

WASHINGTON — A National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge issued a sweeping decision yesterday against Walmart for its illegal actions against workers at two California stores. The judge is ordering Walmart to immediately stop making intimidating comments to workers who are part of OUR Walmart, the national organization of Walmart workers calling for better jobs at the company.  Six workers will also have illegal disciplinary actions removed from their records for time that they were on strike.

“Walmart cannot continue its abuse of power any longer,” said Raymond Bravo who will have his record cleared of illegal disciplinary action for the time that he was on strike in 2012. “Our families and our communities cannot thrive when companies like Walmart create an economy of low pay, erratic scheduling and illegal threats.”

In reaction to the first strikes in Walmart’s history in 2012, Walmart managers and a top spokesperson began to illegally threaten workers for coming together and calling for better wages, schedules and an end to the illegal treatment of workers. Yesterday’s decision reverses the disciplinary action taken against six striking workers at the Richmond store and addresses threats made by a Walmart manager in the Placerville store that the store would close if too many workers became part of OUR Walmart and the threat made by a manager in the Richmond store that he would “shoot the union.”

In the decision, the Administrative Law Judge notes that “some associates were offended when [Walmart store manager] Van Riper stated ‘if it was up to me, I would put that rope around your neck’ when associate Markeith Washington put a rope around his (Washington’s) to assist with moving a heavy counter.” Workers at the Richmond store sent a letter to the company about this store manager which stated, “By using racist remarks and threats of physical violence towards Associates he has created a work environment that is threatening, harassing and intimidating.”

The decision is the result of one of several local complaints that the Board has prosecuted against the company.  Recently, after OUR Walmart filed a charge on behalf of a fired worker in Texas, Walmart settled the case rather than have it brought to trial.

Additionally, the Board is in the process of prosecuting Walmart in a national complaint that includes counts of illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 70 workers. According to the complaint, managers and the company’s national spokesperson illegally threatened striking workers and took illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes.

“The judge’s decision confirms what Walmart workers have known for a long time – the company is illegally trying to silence and intimidate employees who speak out for better jobs,” said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice. “Walmart is facing increasing outrage from customers, community members and clergy who are standing with Walmart workers bravely calling for an end to abuse of power and for a stronger economy that supports all working families.”

BACKGROUND ON THE NATIONAL COMPLAINT AGAINST WALMART

The Board is in the process of prosecuting Walmart on charges filed just after Black Friday 2012, when Walmart managers escalated their efforts to threaten and discourage workers from going on legally protected strikes. David Tovar, a spokesperson for the company at that time, even went so far as to threaten workers on national television, saying “there would be consequences” for workers who did not come in for scheduled shifts on Black Friday.

Additionally, the complaint covers the illegal firings and disciplinary actions that occurred after 100 striking Walmart workers took their concerns to the company’s June shareholder meeting in Bentonville.

In 2013, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice released a white paper documenting Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates. At that time, there were more than 150 incidents in stores across the country, with few signs that Walmart would soon stop targeting those who speak out and act collectively.

 

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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.

December 1, 2014

Calls for $15 an Hour, Full Time Work at Walmart Sweep Country

Walmart workers continued strikes in protest of company’s disregard for their rights
 
 
141128_DallasWalmartProtest068NATIONWIDE – Tens of thousands of Americans protested at 1,600 Walmart stores across the country on Friday, calling on the company to pay associates a minimum of $15 an hour and provide full-time work. The broad group said the country’s largest employer and the Waltons—Walmart’s majority owners—are abusing their power and hurting American families by allowing Walmart to violate workers’ rights. While the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, Walmart brings in more the $16 billion in annual profits; and the Walton family has built up nearly $150 billion in wealth.
Walmart workers—members of OUR Walmart—continued a nationwide strike protesting the company’s illegal retaliation against associates who speak out for better jobs.
In Phoenix, Sandra Sok walked off the job Wednesday for the first time and said: “Many of us are living in deep poverty and going hungry because the Waltons won’t pay us a fair wage. When my coworkers speak out about these issues, the company tries to silence us. For all of my brothers and sisters who have experienced illegal threats, I am on strike.” Sandy is paid only $400 every two weeks and has worked at Walmart for nine years.
Reports from protests around the country include:
·         Los Angeles: Walmart workers, on strike to protest Walmart’s retaliation, and community members are continuing a 24-hour fast outside a Walmart store in protest of the hunger that Walmart and the Waltons are forcing onto many of their families.
·         Washington, DC: A live band is gearing up to support striking workers outside the District’s new Walmart, where a group of workers held a sit-down strike on Wednesday. This is the first time that workers at the new store in Washington and in neighboring Virginia are on strike.
·         Albuquerque: A group of “Raging Grannies” will sing to show their solidarity with workers.
·         Denver: Santa Claus, his elves, Walmart workers and hundreds of community supporters are preparing to deliver a bag of coal to Walmart.
·         North Bergen, New Jersey: Members of the clergy are set to deliver a symbolic food bin to the store while chanting “dignity, not charity.”
Walmart workers started walking off the job on Wednesday in cities nationwide. Inspired by workers in Los Angeles who held the first-ever sit down strike in company history, associates in Washington, DC held a sit-down strike Wednesday at the new store on H Street. Workers in Washington, DC and Virginia are on strike for the first time and are joined by workers who walked off the job in cities and towns nationwide.
“The Black Friday rallies and demonstrations represent a dramatic escalation of the growing protest movement among employees of America’s largest private employer. But they also represent the vanguard of a sharp challenge to the nation’s widening economic divide and the declining standard of living among the majority of Americans,” Peter Dreier, Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College, writes in the Huffington Post. “It is sometimes difficult to recognize historical events as they unfold, but it is likely that future generations will look at these Walmart protests as a major turning point that helped move the nation in a new direction, similar to the sit-down strikes among Flint auto workers in 1937, the Woolworth lunch-counter sit-ins by civil-rights activists in 1960, and the first Earth Day in 1970, which jump-started the environmental movement.”
“Our communities are suffering because Walmart won’t pay many of our neighbors enough so they can fill their stomachs,” said Nicole Ramirez from BAYAN – USA Pacific Northwest, an alliance of Filipino organizations. “I am out here with other Filipino youth and students supporting these brave Walmart workers who are on strike for their right to speak out. Our community is calling for $15 an hour and full-time work because we can’t let the Waltons abuse their power and destroy American families any longer.”
Growing pressure on the company to raise pay and provide full-time work comes as an increasing number of Americans and Walmart workers point to OUR Walmart as making significant changes at the country’s largest retailer. Since last Black Friday, the company committed to raise wages for its lowest paid workers, rolled out a new scheduling system that allows workers to sign up for open shifts and improved protections for pregnant workers in response to public calls from OUR Walmart. Workers at more than 2,200 Walmart stores nationwide have signed a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing consistent, full-time hours.
The Walton family, which controls the Walmart empire, is the richest family in the U.S.—with the wealth of 43% of American families combined. While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth.
Walmart workers began speaking out last week about the severe hunger issues that too many of them are facing because they can’t afford groceries. A group of workers started sharing their stories on Walmart Hunger Games Tumblr after reading about their co-workers’ struggles in a new analysis about Walmart’s role in reinforcing the hunger crisis in America.
For the past three years, Walmart workers have been raising concerns about persistent understaffing at stores and its impact on wasted food, un-stocked shelves, long check-out lines and lower sales, noting that better jobs at Walmart will improve customers’ shopping experience and strengthen the company’s bottom line. The company has reported losing up to $3 billion a year because its shelves go un-stocked. Consumers, analysts, shoppers and workers say that by improving jobs, Walmart can mend its reputation with shoppers, grow the business and help workers support their families.
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UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publicly commit to adhere 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 its employees.
October 29, 2014

UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill Honored for Efforts to Help Walmart Workers

imageLast week, UFCW Executive Vice President Pat O’Neill was honored by the UMass Dartmouth Arnold M. Dubin Labor Education Center during their annual awards banquet.

For 35 years, the center has served “as a bridge between working people, their communities, organizations, and UMass Dartmouth.” Their awards and dinner banquet are one of the largest gatherings of labor leaders and activists in the area.

The Southeastern Massachusetts labor movement joined the center in honoring UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of Organizing Pat O’Neill for his work with the UFCW’s Walmart campaigns.

“I am honored to accept it on behalf of the 1.3 million members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union,” said Pat as he accepted his award.

He continued:

Brothers and sisters, we are at crossroads in the labor movement. There is no sugarcoating it.Workers are struggling to make ends meet. More and more families are falling behind. Income inequality is getting worse. Minimum wage workers are living in poverty. Hard working immigrants are still living in the shadows.

But in too many corners of our movement, labor is trying to address 21st century challenges with 20th century solutions. It is not working. Some will tell you we need more time—that things will get back to normal eventually.

I say if you’re heading toward a cliff at 100 miles an hour, you don’t need more time. You need a change in direction. That is why I am so proud of our dynamic and forward-looking Walmart campaign.

There are those who say Walmart is too big, too entrenched, and too powerful. That we don’t stand a chance against the world’s largest retailer.

Every important battle for justice has had its share of naysayers. It is always easier to analyze than to mobilize.

Here is what I believe—when we stand together and work together and fight together and dream together—there is nothing we cannot achieve. Last week, Walmart workers and their allies sent shockwaves across the country. They shut down Park Avenue in front of Alice Walton’s $25 million penthouse. They set up a blockade of K Street in front of the Walton Family Foundation in Washington, DC. And they delivered thousands of petitions to the Phoenix home of Walmart Chair Rob Walton calling on the company to give workers $15 dollars and full-time hours. The media coverage surrounding these events was substantial and a clear message was sent to the Walton family and Walmart executives: workers will not be pushed around.”

UFCW Locals 1455 and  328 were in attendance to support Pat as well.