December, 2013

THE YEAR OF THE RETAIL WORKER

From the historic Walmart strikes leading up to and on Black Friday to the recent fast food worker strikes, 2013 has been the year of the retail worker.

WisconsinFor the second year, Walmart workers and members of OUR Walmart called on the retail giant to stop its practice of retaliating against workers who are speaking out for positive change, and publicly commit to increasing access to full-time work and raising wages to at least $25,000 per year. Leading up to and on Black Friday, members of OUR Walmart and community allies across the country held 1,500 protests—making the 2013 Black Friday actions even more widespread than last year. Retail food workers also went on strike across the country to call attention to their struggle to make ends meet on low wages with inconsistent hours.

Retail jobs are here to stay, and it’s time for leaders in the retail sector to listen to their workers and lead the way in making sure that retail jobs are good jobs with benefits so that workers in this industry have a pathway to the middle class. Members of OUR Walmart have launched a petition to meet with President Obama regarding their effort to improve working conditions at Walmart.  To sign the petition, visit http://blackfridayprotests.org/.

 

Urge Congress to Raise the Minimum Wage and Enact the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights

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Congress needs to do what’s right for retail workers.

Retail jobs are here to stay, and workers in this industry are taking a stand for better wages and benefits.  As our nation’s economy relies more and more on part-time, low-wage work, policies are needed to address the widening gap of those working without a safety net for retirement, healthcare, and family leave.  Here are two key pieces of legislation that will protect the health and well-being of millions of part-time workers in retail and other service industries.

Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights

While much attention has been paid to the floundering Affordable Care Act (ACA) website, it is the design of the law’s employer penalties that are the real concern. The ACA includes a fine for failing to cover full-time workers but includes no such penalty for part-timers (defined as working less than 30 hours a week). As a result, some employers are reducing workers’ hours below 30 to save money. The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights (H.R. 675) would penalize employers for failing to provide health care to part-timers and thereby end the incentive for cutting hours. Some Democrats and Republicans are pushing to change the definition of full-time in the ACA from 30 hours per week to 40. This is the wrong way to go, and would allow companies to get off scot-free for failing to cover those who work between 30 and 39 hours and lead to more hours being cut. The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights is the best vehicle for fixing a major loophole in the ACA.

Minimum Wage

While CEO pay has risen 725 percent over the last 30 years, workers making the minimum wage have seen their pay remain stagnant. The real value of the current federal minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1960s even as corporate profits are soaring at astronomical rates. States from California to New Jersey have recently raised the minimum wage, but this problem calls for a federal solution. The Retail Justice Alliance supports H.R. 1010 which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and tie it to inflation.  Raising the minimum wage would not only help workers provide for their families, but also boost our economy by giving them more purchasing power. Congress should pass this bill immediately.

Worker-led Walmart Protests Make History on Black Friday

DSC_0008For the second year, members of OUR Walmart have made history.  Leading up to and on Black Friday, Walmart workers and community supporters held 1,500 protests calling for better jobs at the world’s largest retailer—making the 2013 Black Friday actions even more widespread than last year.

Members of OUR Walmart and supporters engaged in peaceful civil disobedience in Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Sacramento, Miami, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. The actions resulted in more than 100 arrests, making Black Friday 2013 the largest protest and civil disobedience action taken against Walmart.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of OUR Walmart members and civil rights, faith and community groups and others, the worker-led protests captured national attention and highlighted the fact that too many Walmart workers are struggling to support their families and contribute to their local economies. During the protests, members of OUR Walmart and community supporters called on the retail giant to stop its practice of retaliating against workers who are simply exercising their right to speak out for a better life and improved working conditions, and 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 full review of the Black Friday actions, along with photos and videos, can be found at http://blackfridayprotests.org/.