By Bill Fletcher, chair of the National Retail Justice Alliance
No matter who you are or where you are from, everyone has the fundamental right to come together and to speak out to improve their lives and the lives of their co-workers.
Last Friday, Walmart illegally fired nearly a dozen workers who were simply exercising their right to speak out for a better life and improved working conditions. These workers were members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), who traveled to Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., earlier this month to protest the company’s practice of retaliating against workers who speak out for change.
The company’s actions are not just limited to workers. The retail giant is also bullying community groups as well by filing trespassing lawsuits in an attempt to keep concerned community members and faith leaders from exercising their right to speak out about what’s best for their community.
It’s unacceptable that a company with $16 billion in profits is bullying communities and working families who are just trying to make ends meet. Because of Walmart, we all pay the price. In fact, a recent report by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce found that taxpayers pay nearly $1 million to subsidize Walmart’s race-to-the-bottom business model at a single store.
As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart can and should lead the way in making sure that retail jobs are good jobs—the kind that come with good benefits and wages for all workers. If Walmart would listen to—and respect—its workers, it could not only reverse the downward trends that have plagued the company, it could also help to rebuild our country’s economy and strengthen America’s middle class.