May, 2013

OUR Walmart Members Prepare Caravans and Actions Leading up to Walmart’s Shareholders’ Meeting

Members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) are planning to send civil rights movement–style caravans of workers from around the country to Walmart’s June 7 annual shareholders’ meeting in Bentonville, Ark., to protest the company’s practice of retaliating against workers who speak out for change.

Citing Walmart’s $16 billion in profits every year, OUR Walmart members have called on the company to publicly commit to raising wages and increasing access to full time hours so that no worker at Walmart makes less than $25,000 per year. Though Walmart has paid lip service to workers’ concerns since the historic Black Friday strikes last fall, the company has yet to take meaningful action to address the problems plaguing associates and customers at stores across the country.

OUR Walmart members in Florida supporting Lisa Lopez as she delivers her strike letter.

OUR Walmart members in Florida supporting Lisa Lopez as she delivers her strike letter.

“While the Walton family has the wealth of 42 percent of American families combined, many associates like me can’t even support our families without relying on government support,” said OUR Walmart member Mary Pat. “In addition to low pay, the company’s scheduling practices leave many of us with inadequate and erratic hours—making it impossible to afford even basic necessities or even find a second job.”

Several days before the shareholder meeting, “Ride for Respect” caravans will leave from cities across the country, including Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Orlando and Baton Rouge, among others. As OUR Walmart members make their way to Bentonville, Ark., they will hold actions at Walmart stores, talk to associates about OUR Walmart, and also stop to meet with local unions and supportive community organizations.

Los Angeles Walmart worker Tsehai Almaz said that she and other OUR Walmart leaders were inspired to follow the example of the 1961 freedom riders. “I feel like we’re facing many of the same issues,” said Almaz, “it’s about respect, and being able to feed our families, and having good working conditions.”“Walmart Board Members like Rob Walton and Greg Penner of the Walton family, Marissa Mayer and Aida Alvarez can do so much more to be leaders in this company and to help change the way Walmart treats workers. We’re telling them that silence is no longer an option,” said OUR Walmart member Colby Harris.

Calls for a change of course and leadership at Walmart have grown in recent months, as the company faces allegations of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations abroad and scrutiny in the U.S. over empty shelves and long lines caused by inadequate staffing.

For more information, visit http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/

National Retail Justice Alliance Highlights Need for Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights in California

The National Retail Justice Alliance, in partnership with other stakeholders, hosted hearings this week in Oakland and Los Angeles with two members of Congress—Representatives Barbara Lee and Judy Chu—to highlight the social and economic plight of part-time workers in retail and other service industries.

The hearings also underscored the need for the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2013 (H.R. 675), which builds upon the progress of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ensures that part-time workers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week) and their families have access to critical workplace benefits.  The ACA penalizes employers who fail to provide health insurance to full-time workers, but includes no such penalties for employers who deny health coverage to part-time workers.

“Millions of Americans are only able to find part-time jobs, and too many of these jobs do not provide health insurance, family and medical leave, or pension plans,” said Representative Chu. That’s why the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act, which would extend benefits to part-time workers, is so critical. In today’s economy, we need to make sure that all hard-working Americans can afford to put food on the table and have a safety net to protect them and their families.”

In addition to Lee and Chu, state and local leaders, economic experts and part-time workers also spoke at the hearings which took place at the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland and East Los Angeles College.

National Retail Justice Alliance Highlights Struggles of Part-Time Workers in Hearing with Congresswoman Judy Chu

Los Angeles, Calif. – The National Retail Justice Alliance, in partnership with the UFCW, hosted a hearing today in Los Angeles with Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Calif.) to highlight the social and economic plight of part-time workers in retail and other service industries.  The hearing also underscored the need for the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2013 (H.R. 675), legislation that Congresswoman Chu has co-sponsored, which would extend protections to part-time workers in the areas of employer-provided health insurance, family and medical leave, and pension plans.

“I was honored to participate in today’s hearing which highlighted the economic struggles of part-time workers, especially those in retail,” said Congresswoman Chu.  “Millions of Americans are only able to find part-time jobs, and too many of these jobs do not provide health insurance, family and medical leave, or pension plans. That’s why the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act, which would extend benefits to part-time workers, is so critical. In today’s economy, we need to make sure that all hard-working Americans can afford to put food on the table and have a safety net to protect them and their families.”

The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights builds upon the progress of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ensures that part-time workers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week) and their families have access to critical workplace benefits.  The ACA penalizes employers who fail to provide health insurance to full-time workers, but includes no such penalties for employers who deny health coverage to part-time workers.

“There are too many people in search of work who can only find part-time jobs—and many of these jobs do not include critical work-related health and retirement benefits,” said Lola Smallwood Cuevas, a project director at the Los Angeles Black Worker Center at UCLA’s Center for Labor Research and Education and a member of the National Retail Justice Alliance. “Policies like the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights are needed to address the increasing number of Americans who are working without a safety net for retirement, health care, and family leave.”

In addition to Chu and Cuevas, state and local leaders, economic experts and part-time workers also spoke at the hearing which took place at East Los Angeles College.

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The National Retail Justice Alliance is dedicated to raising the living and working standards of retail workers in the United States.  By working in collaboration with a broad base of opinion leaders, organizations and communities, the National Retail Justice Alliance builds support for workers in the retail industry through advocacy, education and research to promote sustainable jobs, living wages, affordable health care and fair public policies.  For more information, visit www.retailjusticealliance.org.