November, 2013

#WalmartStrikers Need YOU This Black Friday!

DSC_0056Its less than two days away. After you’ve stuffed yourself with (union-made of course!) Turkey and pie, come out to your local Walmart to join Walmart workers and your community in standing up to America’s largest retailer. They are calling on their employer to stop retaliating against them for speaking out about things like low wages and poor work schedules. Watch the video below, and then head to http://blackfridayprotests.org/ to join an event near you!

New Report Highlights How Walmart Gathers Big Data That Can Be Used to Invade Privacy, Fuel Hidden Discrimination

DSC_0021A new report issued by the Center for Media Justice, Colorofchange.org, and Sum of Us examines Walmart’s efforts to gather “Big Data” on an estimated 145 million American consumers, analyze that information in complex ways, and use the results of that analysis to track consumers on and offline.

This report is also an effort to help American consumers understand what information Walmart is gathering, how they are gathering it, and what we can do about it.  All Americans should be wary of Walmart’s online agenda and what it means for our families and communities.  People of color and other marginalized communities should pay special attention to these types of predictive uses of massive data as they magnify the risks for potential discrimination, including physical surveillance.

John Paul Ashton: Scraping By on Less Than $25K

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

John Paul “JP” Ashton, is a 31-year old Walmart maintenance worker who makes around $20,000 a year. Originally from Colorado, Ashton now lives in Washington. He is the father of two and has worked at Walmart for more than five years to support his family.

JP Ashton“When I first started at Walmart I was told that it was a place where I could grow and have opportunities. I soon discovered that was not the case,” said Ashton. “People take being able to buy lunch for granted. I don’t need a fancy job, but what I do need is a job that allows me to provide for my family and to be able to speak out without fear of retaliation. It would also be nice to have more than $2 in my bank account after I pay my bills.”

Ashton, who must walk 45 minutes to work, prides himself on being a provider for his family. As one of the many Walmart workers who earn less than $25,000 a year, during his time with the mega-retailer Ashton has had to, at times, rely on food banks to feed his family. Currently, he receives food stamps in order to put food on the table.

“No one wants to have to rely on food stamps to live (and trust me I know how to budget the little money I make), but at the end of the day because of what Walmart pays I have no other choice. It’s hard for me to understand how a company that makes all that money and a family that has over $144 billion can justify what they pay workers,” he said.

Ashton, who enrolled in Walmart’s healthcare plan in order to provide insurance to his two children, brings home on average $1200-1400 a month. Often he is unable to pay his rent in full because his bi-weekly paycheck does not cover the full amount.

Ashton joined OUR Walmart because he wanted to have a voice on the job and the ability to speak with management about working conditions without fear of retaliation.

When asked what $25,000 a year would mean for him Ashton’s remark was simple, “Freedom…freedom to do more things for my children.”

“I don’t need or want much. Yes, it would be nice to have a car or maybe a house. It would even be nice to have more than $10 in my bank account. Sam Walton said ‘you treat employees right, treat customers right and we all make money.’ Walmart does not does not live up to that and I am going to keep fighting until they do.”

Read about more workers like JP each week as we release more stories from the majority of Walmart employees who struggle to get by on less than $25,000 a year.

Retail Justice Alliance Stands with Walmart Workers on Black Friday

DSC_0099Bill Fletcher, chair of the Retail Justice Alliance, has published a new article about why it’s important to support current and former Walmart workers who are members of OUR Walmart this Black Friday.

Please join the Retail Justice Alliance in supporting these brave men and women in their fight to change the way Walmart does business.  Leading up to Black Friday, Members of OUR Walmart have launched a petition to President Obama and unveiled an online portal that lets associates sign up for community support. For more information or to sign the petition, sponsor a striker or attend a Black Friday action in your community, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/.

Osvaldo Alonso: Scraping By on Less than $25K

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

This year Osvaldo Alonso will celebrate his 60th birthday and will earn about $18,000 working full-time at Walmart. Alonso, who is originally from Cuba, has worked at the Walmart in Miami for four years.

http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/files/2013/11/Osvaldo.jpgLike many, Alonso was severely impacted by the economic downturn in 2008. As a result, he took a job at Walmart where he initially made slightly more than $8 an hour. Four years later he makes a little more than $10 an hour.

“I am grateful that I have a job, but it is unacceptable how much Walmart pays us and how we are treated. I work full-time but how can I support my wife and children when I only make $18,000 a year? Walmart can pay us more, but they have chosen to pay us poverty wages,” Alonso said. “ I have one question for the Waltons, ‘how can you let this happen to the people that have helped give you so much wealth?’”

Alonso came to the US for better opportunities and a better life for his family. Soon after starting work at Walmart, he discovered how badly Walmart management treats its employees. He joined OUR Walmart so that he could stand up against injustice, unfairness and poor wages.

If he could change Walmart, Alonso would change current management and make sure new management treats its workers with respect. He would make sure that all workers’ rights were being respected, including the right to stand together and speak out for change.

Read about more workers like Osvaldo each week as we release more stories from the majority of Walmart employees who struggle to get by on less than $25,000 a year.

Wages, Not Welfare

882906_700864813259500_1747687421_oAs Black Friday approaches, members of the Retail Justice Alliance are standing with current and former Walmart workers who are members of OUR Walmart as they call on the retail giant to provide more full-time jobs and ensure that all Walmart workers are paid a wage equivalent to at least $25,000 a year for full-time work.

Dr. Julianne Malveaux is an economist, author, social and political commentator, and a member of the Retail Justice Alliance.  Read her new article titled “Wages, Not Welfare” regarding OUR Walmart’s effort to change the way the retail giant does business.

A Bad Week For Walmart

A recent article in Bloomberg’s Businessweek highlights why it’s been a very bad week for Walmart.

This week, hundreds of Walmart workers and members of OUR Walmart in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas, intensified their calls for Walmart to end its practice of retaliating against workers who are simply exercising their right to speak out for a better life and improved working conditions.  Citing Walmart’s $17 billion in profits last year, members of OUR Walmart are calling on the retail giant 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.  In the past few weeks, members of OUR Walmart have organized similar actions in Los Angeles, Seattle and Chicago.

1462775_767983433218715_313756515_oFollowing the strikes in Ohio and Texas, the NLRB’s General Counsel issued a decision in favor of workers that Walmart illegally disciplined and fired workers over strikes and protests. The NLRB will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June, according to the decision.

The NLRB decision addresses threats by managers and the company’s national spokesperson for discouraging workers from striking and for taking illegal disciplinary actions against workers who were on legally protected strikes. Workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights.

Also this week, an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer caught national attention when it reported that the Walmart store in Canton, Ohio, was collecting food for employees who can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner. Stephen Colbert covered the story in “The Colbert Report.”

As Black Friday approaches, members of OUR Walmart have launched a petition to President Obama and unveiled an online portal that lets associates sign up for community support. For more information or to sign the petition, sponsor a striker or attend a Black Friday action in your community, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/.

 

 

New Demos Report Shows that Walmart Can Invest In Its Workforce without Raising Prices

 

10746047863_3c1af10185_zA new report by Demos finds that Walmart can afford to and would benefit from raising wages and increasing access to full-time hours so that no worker at Walmart makes less than $25,000 per year.  Titled “A Higher Wage is Possible: How Walmart Can Invest in Its Workforce Without Costing Customers a Dime,” the report shows that if Walmart redirected the $7.6 billion it spends annually on repurchases of its own company stock, these funds could be used to give Walmart’s workers a raise of nearly $6 an hour—more than enough to ensure that all Walmart workers are paid a wage equivalent to at least $25,000 a year for full-time work—without raising prices.

Last year, Demos published another study about how retailers can benefit from raising employee wages.  The report, titled “Retail’s Hidden Potential: How Raising Wages Would Benefit Workers, the Industry and the Overall Economy,” shows that raising wages to $25,000 per year for full-time retail workers at the nation’s largest retail companies (or those employing at least 1,000 workers) would result in improving the lives of more than 1.5 million retail workers and their families who are currently living in or hovering above poverty.

 

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Dorothy Halvorson: Scraping By on Less Than $25K

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

Dorothy lives in Placerville, California, and has worked at Walmart for 10 years. Currently she is on medical leave. Prior to goi10745763066_bdc98f4bd8_zng on medical leave five months ago, she was earning $12.29 dollars an hour. In 2012, her annual income was about $16,000.

In the decade that she has worked at Walmart, Halvorson has seen many changes. At she first she loved it, but that all changed when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

At the same time, Halvorson had to have a hip replacement surgery, but she didn’t want to take time off because she didn’t want to leave Walmart short-handed. It wasn’t until her husband became gravely ill, and eventually passed away from cancer, that she decided to take a leave of absence. When Halvorson eventually came back to work, Walmart dramatically cut her hours. She was given part-time status and management moved her into a different department. She also lost all the vacation and a sick leave that she accrued over 7 years.

Last year, Walmart started hiring new part-time workers, while firing full-timers who have worked at the company for years. Halvorson believes Walmart targets and fires workers who have worked at the store for a long time and who are enrolled in Walmart’s benefit programs.

“I don’t agree with the way we are treated by management. Walmart needs to change. We need consistent schedules and for those of us who want is we need full time hours,” said Halvorson. “I know Walmart can provide us with reasonable work schedules, an end to illegal retaliation and pay us $25,000 a year. And I am not going to stop fighting until they do.”

Read about more workers like Dorothy each week as we release more stories from the majority of Walmart employees who struggle to get by on less than $25,000 a year.

Leading Up to Black Friday, Walmart Workers Strike in Seattle and Chicago

Seattle strike 4This week—in the days leading up to Black Friday—hundreds of Walmart workers and members of OUR Walmart in Seattle and Chicago intensified their calls for Walmart to end its practice of retaliating against workers who are simply exercising their right to speak out for a better life and improved working conditions.

In Seattle and Chicago, members of OUR Walmart and community allies went on strike and called for an end to the retail giant’s illegal retaliation against workers speaking out for positive change. Last week in Los Angeles during a two-day strike, more than 50 people, including Walmart workers, members of the clergy and community members, were arrested in the largest act of civil disobedience against the retail giant.

Citing Walmart’s $17 billion in profits last year, members of OUR Walmart are calling on the retail giant 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. A recent article in CNN Money argues that Walmart can afford to give its workers a 50 percent raise and still remain profitable.

Members of OUR Walmart promise more actions throughout the month and on Black Friday and have launched a petition to President Obama and unveiled an online portal that lets associates sign up for community support. For more information or to sign the petition, sponsor a striker or attend a Black Friday action in your community, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/.