September, 2013

OUR Walmart Celebrates Legal Victory and Prepares for Actions Leading Up to Black Friday

In response to last year’s Black Friday actions, Walmart filed a lawsuit in Washington state court against OUR Walmart and its supporters alleging trespass and requesting a court order to prohibit future OUR Walmart actions inside and outside of Walmart stores.

OUR Walmart fought the lawsuit and successfully persuaded the Washington judge to dismiss it because Walmart’s state court lawsuit violated federal labor law that requires Walmart to present its issues only to the NLRB. Walmart had filed an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB prior to filing its lawsuit.

This legal win means that Walmart cannot seek trespass injunctions against OUR Walmart or its supporters for future actions in Washington. The win will also help OUR Walmart’s legal team to make similar arguments in other states that have Walmart trespass lawsuits pending, including Ark., Calif., Colo., Fla., and Texas.

OUR Walmart members have announced widespread protests for Black Friday in 2013. As Black Friday approaches, the campaign is asking allies to commit to supporting OUR Walmart members as they take action this holiday shopping season by signing the petition at http://bit.ly/15H42nj.

Demanding a ‘Living Wage’: My First Protest Against Walmart

Sherman Justice attended the Walmart rally for a living wage in Maryland on Sept. 5 and posted a blog about his experience on the Coalition on Black Civic Participation site at http://ncbcp.org/blog/. Read his story below:

This protest against Wal-Mart was my first protest ever. As I stood in solidarity against a multi-million dollar company refusing to pay a living wage, a spark of hope ignited within me. Hundreds of people of all ages, gender and color came together at a local Wal-Mart store in Landover Hills, Maryland to stand up against Wal-Mart’s unjust practices and pay.

068I was touched by the personal account that an elderly woman gave stating that her manager often gave her compliments on her work, and yet one day without notice she was called to the back and fired without explanation. She stated that when she asked why she was let go she was simply told that they didn’t owe her any explanation. I could not help but think about my grandma being in this same predicament and how her termination impacted her family. This protest was a huge eye opener for me, I admittedly have shopped at Wal-Mart in the past because of their low prices but I will no longer shop there because it’s bigger than saving a few dollars. I can’t support a company that chooses to not fairly pay their workers enough to take care of themselves let alone a family.

When I first arrived to the protest I noticed that people were standing in a group with posters, some of which read “Wal-Mart always discriminates”. As different buses arrived new people came with more posters, and t-shirts that they passed out amongst the crowd. A band even rallied us up and played different songs. The rally began in a prayer delivered by a Hispanic preacher who was translated by another community activist. Although I couldn’t comprehend anything he was saying, I felt his spirit, passion and conviction that he spoke with. “All people are equal and regardless of our race we are all God’s creatures,” he said as he closed his remarks.

As the rally ended, the crowd now around 200 people began to march onto Route 450 during rush hour chanting ‘they say roll back, we say fight back’. As we marched in protest some people were arrested after refusing to move from blocking traffic. As a novice protester, I couldn’t help but be excited to see people truly committed to ending a wrongdoing. My main takeaway was that you must continue to fight for what’s right despite any other factors. I will continue to pray that Wal-Mart comes to some type of agreement where everyone can win.

New Data Link Decline of Middle Class to Union Membership

New data released this week underscore the fact that smaller numbers of unionized workers mean less bargaining power, a weakened middle class and lower wages for everyone.

unions middle income

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on incomes and poverty.  According to the report, the median household income in the U.S. in 2012 was $51,017, and not much different from the 2011 median income of $51,100.  However, when you look at the median household incomes over the last 25 years, the median household income in 1989 was $51,681—meaning that a typical middle class family earned more in 1989 than middle class families did last year.  The nation’s official poverty rate in 2012 also remained stagnant at 15 percent, representing 46.5 million people who are living at or below the poverty line.

Another study this week from Center for American Progress builds on the U.S. Census Bureau data and links the slide of middle class incomes to the decline in union membership since the 1960s.  Between 1967 and 2012, union membership fell from 28.3 percent of all workers to 11.3 percent in all 50 states.  The decline in union membership is reflected in the decline in the share of the nation’s income going to the middle 60 percent of households, which fell from 52.3 percent to 45.7 percent over the same time period.

As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, it’s clear that something needs to be done to rebuild the middle class.  Making it easier for workers to stick together in a union to bargain for better wages and benefits is a good place to start.

Robert Reich’s “Inequality For All” Opens Sept. 27

IFA_radius_keyart_1200x  A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, INEQUALITY FOR ALL features Robert Reich – professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member – as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. In this INCONVENIENT TRUTH for the economy, Reich uses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us.

Find a showing near you!

After Nationwide Day of Protests, OUR Walmart Announces Massive 2013 Black Friday Strikes

Last week, Walmart workers and their supporters across the country joined together for a nationwide day of protests in 15 cities.  One hundred Walmart workers who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and community members were arrested after calling on the retail giant make a public commitment to provide its employees with full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000, reinstate workers who were fired for protesting DSC_0024Walmart’s unfair labor practices at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in June, and agree to stop all retaliation against workers who are speaking out for improvements in the workplace. In response to Walmart’s inaction, Walmart workers announced widespread, massive strikes and protests for Black Friday in 2013. The workers made headlines last year on Black Friday with the largest strike in the company’s history.

Since June, Walmart has illegally disciplined nearly 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders. More than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges have been filed with the NLRB against Walmart.

“As the nation’s largest employer, Walmart and the Walton family should be raising standards, not lowering them. To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and a member of the Retail Justice Alliance. “Walmart should share its prosperity with workers and publicly commit to paying workers $25,000 a year for full-time work, as the courageous OUR Walmart workers are demanding. If Walmart workers earned living wages, the entire economy would benefit.”

To support Walmart workers on Black Friday, visit http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/black-friday-pledge.

Walmart Workers and Supporters Hold Nationwide Day of Protests Against Retail Giant

Wages-Matter-New-NormalToday, Walmart workers and their supporters in over a dozen cities across the country are joining together for a nationwide day of protests—the largest mobilization since Black Friday—to call for better jobs at the country’s largest employer.

Many Walmart workers are struggling to support their families and contribute to their local economies because of low wages, insufficient hours and ongoing efforts to silence workers who are speaking out for better jobs.  Today’s protests come after Walmart failed to respond to a Labor Day deadline set by tens of thousands of Americans calling on Walmart to publicly commit to provide full-time work with a minimum salary of $25,000, reinstate workers who were fired for striking and agree to stop all retaliation against workers calling for better jobs.

Since June, Walmart has illegally disciplined nearly 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders. More than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges have been filed with the NLRB against Walmart.

There are several ways to help support Walmart workers as they take action today.  You can sign a petition located at http://bit.ly/150trkD.  You can also spread the work on social media by sharing any of the images located at http://bit.ly/17zqsEN or the video posted at http://bit.ly/19fR8K0 on Facebook. You can also go to Twitter to show your support and use the sample tweet: #WalmartStrikers are drawing a line. Stand with them for a real wage & workers’ rights on Sept. 5th bit.ly/1cgXnPA @ChangeWalmart

For photos and video of strikers and their community supporters, visit http://changewalmart.tumblr.com, or follow the conversation and see photos on Twitter at #Walmartstrikers.