May, 2014

Walmart Moms Vow to Strike Leading Up to Shareholders Meeting Next Week

jaffe_walmart_moms_strike_850_593This week, a group of mothers who work at Walmart announced that they plan to lead Walmart mom and working family strikes nationwide in the build up to Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting next week to protest the company’s continuing retaliation against workers who speak out for positive change.

Walmart is the largest employer of women in the country, and its low-wage, part-time business practices have put a financial strain on too many Walmart women and their families.  The majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year and many Walmart workers, including women who are the sole breadwinners and decision-makers for their families, have been forced to rely on food stamps and other taxpayer-supported programs to survive.

Walmart moms have vowed to strike and hold a national day of action on June 4. For more information and to support these brave workers, visit http://makingchangeatwalmart.org/.

Walmart Workers Get Their Day in Court

Walmart workers get their day in courtThis week in Oakland, Calif., the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) began its prosecution of Walmart for the illegal dismissals and punishment of more than 60 workers for going on strike last year to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation against their coworkers for speaking out for better work conditions and wages. This trial comes after the board’s general counsel found merit in the workers’ case and issued a formal complaint stating that Walmart violated federal labor law by targeting these workers.

The NLRB hearing in in Oakland is the first of five hearings that will be held in differen cities across the country. Depending on the results of these hearings, Walmart workers could be returned to work with back pay and have disciplinary actions removed.

Walmart, already notorious for its questionable treatment of workers throughout the supply chain, escalated its attack on workers’ rights last summer. Following the June 2013 “Ride for Respect” cross-country trip made by Walmart workers from around the nation to the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart disciplined more than 60 strikers – 19 of whom were illegally fired.

Among those targeted were working moms, like Barbara Collins. Barbara did nothing wrong—she just wanted to stand up for her coworkers’ right to speak out and bring up issues that many working mothers face.

The Retail Justice Alliance calls on Walmart to stop punishing workers for simply speaking out for positive change in the workplace. These national hearings could result in justice for at least one group of Walmart workers, and serve as a reminder that even Walmart isn’t above national law.

President Obama Visit to Walmart Sends the Wrong Message

Bill Fletcher, chair of the Retail Justice Alliance, and actor, film director and activist Danny Glover, who is a also member of the Retail Justice Alliance, show their support for members of OUR Walmart.

Bill Fletcher, chair of the Retail Justice Alliance, and actor, film director and activist Danny Glover, who is a also member of the Retail Justice Alliance, show their support for members of OUR Walmart.

Last week, President Obama visited a Walmart store in Mountain View, Calif., to talk about energy efficiency and stood side by side with a company known for low wages, few benefits, unreliable hours, alleged discrimination against women, violating workers’ rights, and ironically, environmental degradation. In fact, The Green Life environmental group recently named Walmart the top “Greenwasher of the Year” for 2014 for marketing itself with misleading claims of environmental sustainability.

As the NLRB continues to prosecute Walmart for retaliating against workers who stand up and speak out for positive change, and taxpayers continue to subsidize Walmart, which pays many of its own workers so little that they must rely on food stamps and Medicaid, President Obama’s visit to Walmart sends a terrible message to workers across America.  The Retail Justice Alliance urges the president to reconsider his relationship with the retail giant, and stand up for working people by agreeing to meet with Walmart workers so that he can learn firsthand about their struggle to make ends meet. A petition asking President Obama to meet with Walmart workers can be found here.

Making Change at Walmart and Organization United for Respect Call on Allies to Mobilize Around Obama Visit to Walmart

Dear Allies,

ObamaVisitsWalmartPresident Obama is visiting the Walmart in Mountain View, CA to talk about the Environment and Sustainability this Friday, May 9th in the morning.

We were all surprised by this given the fact that Walmart has been failing on environment and climate issues and failing on worker rights and justice.

You’ve asked how we can together make sure President Obama knows the truth about how Walmart is failing on both of these.

Here is what allies can do to help.

1. There is a rally being organized in front of the store for Friday morning at 8 am PT. We are asking for you to send recruitment emails to your base in northern California to ask them to show up for the rally so that the President can see how many people are concerned about this. Here is the RSVP on Action Network that you can send out and below is a sample recruitment email that you can adapt to send to your base or networks in northern California.

2. Remember the OUR Walmart petition to President Obama? Help us break 200,000 (we’re at 191,000) signers to the petition calling on President Obama to make good on his promise to stand up for working people by meeting with the courageous workers risking firing or other disciplinary action by joining together as Organization United for Respect at Walmart. The petition can be found here. 

Thanks,

The MCAW team

Retail Sector Adds Jobs in April, But Many are Low-Wage, Part-Time Positions

via CNN

via CNN

According to the Department of Labor, the retail sector continues to play a major role in adding jobs to the economy, but many of these jobs continue to be low-wage or part-time positions.

U.S. employers added 288,000 jobs in April, and 35,000 of those jobs were in the retail sector. Although the retail sector has added 327,000 jobs to the economy over the past 12 months, too many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs with inconsistent hours and few benefits, and are relying on taxpayer funded programs like food stamps just to make ends meet.

As corporate profits continue to soar to astronomical rates and the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, more must be done to reverse the shift towards low-wage, part-time jobs.  Raising the federal minimum wage is a good place to start.

Despite the fact that the real value of the current federal minimum wage is lower than it was in the 1960s, Senate Republicans failed to advance legislation last week to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation.  Raising the minimum wage would boost our economy and reduce workers’ reliance on public subsidies.  In fact, a recent report by the Center for American Progress shows that raising the federal minimum wage to the proposed $10.10 per hour would reduce federal food stamp spending by $4.6 billion a year.

The current shift toward low-wage, part-time jobs is not the answer to our country’s economic problems, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges Senate Republicans to think about the many Americans who are trying to get by on low-wage jobs and raise the minimum wage.

April Employment Numbers Show Unemployment Rate Decreases; But Employment Participation Rate is Low

Adapted from the NAACP

The NAACP has released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) April employment report which indicates that for the month of April, the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% with 733,000fewer people counted as unemployed and 288,000 new jobs created. For African Americans, unemployment decreased to 11.6%; but employment participation rates also decreased dramatically.

The NAACP has released the following statement in response to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) April employment report which indicates that for themonth of April, the national unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% with 733,000fewer people counted as unemployed and 288,000 new jobs created. For African Americans, unemployment decreased to 11.6%; but employment participation rates also decreased dramatically.

From Dedrick Muhammad, Sr. Director of NAACP Economic Department:

fred“We are encouraged by the overall decrease in unemployment; but the employment participation ratealso continues to decline particularly in the African American community. We cannot grow and strengthen the economy if we do not create more jobs and bring more workers into the labor market.  This is crucial to closing the racial economic divide and growing a solid middle class in the 21st century.”

The report also indicated major gains in temporary help (24,000), food service (33,000), and healthcare (19,000)  — beating expectations.  The unemployment rate for Asians was 5.7%, for whites 5.3% and Latinos 7.3%.

 

 

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.  You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our five “Game Changer” issue areas here.

The Senate Turns its Back on American Workers

10257716_10152785482317729_1090544038972089681_oThis week, Senate Republicans turned their backs on American workers everywhere by failing to advance legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation.

CEO pay has risen 725 percent over the last 30 years, yet the real value of the minimum wage continues to decline. In the retail sector alone, too many workers are struggling to survive in minimum wage jobs with inconsistent hours and few benefits, and many of these workers are being forced to rely on taxpayer funded programs like food stamps just to make ends meet.

This is simply wrong, and states and localities from California to New Jersey are refusing to sit by, with many raising their own minimum wage to levels higher than the federal rate.  In fact, Seattle just raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour.  But all Americans deserve a living wage, and this problem calls for a federal solution.  This is an election year, and the Retail Justice Alliance urges Senate Republicans to think about the many voters who are struggling to survive in low-wage jobs and raise the minimum wage.

Two More Walmart Board Members Resign; Five Gone in Last Two Years

This article was initially published by Walmart 1 Percent.

 

Walmart's Board of Directors

Walmart’s Board of Directors

In another sign of the growing pressure from Walmart workers and their allies, Walmart announced in its annual proxy statement (a report filed with the SEC in advance of the annual shareholders meeting) yesterday that two long-time board members would be stepping down. The two board members are former Walmart CEO Lee Scott, Jr. and independent board member and Audit Committee chairman Christopher Williams.

Members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and their allies have repeatedlyreached out to Mr. Williams, asking him listen to their concerns. In response to his continued lack of leadership, calls began to grow for Mr. Williams’ resignation.

OUR Walmart member Barbara Gertz, released a statement upon the news that Mr. Williams would be stepping down. The statement read, in part:

We hope that the departure of Mr. Williams and Mr. Scott provide an opening for new, independent voices at Walmart. We have been calling on Mr. Williams and other independent members of the board to stand up for change at Walmart. Mr. Williams has refused to listen to our concerns. We called on him to resign because we need board members who recognize and value our experiences.

Mr. Scott and Mr. Williams are two of those most heavily implicated in the ongoing investigation into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at Walmart. Mr. Scott was CEO during the time that the alleged bribery and apparent cover-up at Walmart’s Mexican subsidiary, Wal-Mex, took place.

The New York Times reported that Mr. Scott was instrumental in limiting Walmart’s internal investigation and, ultimately, in handing it back to some of the very people who were implicated in the alleged bribery:

In one meeting [in 2006] where the bribery case was discussed, H. Lee Scott Jr., then Wal-Mart’s chief executive, rebuked internal investigators for being overly aggressive. Days later, records show, Wal-Mart’s top lawyer arranged to ship the internal investigators’ files on the case to Mexico City. Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes.

In 2013, New York City Comptroller John Liu specifically raised concerns about Mr. Scott’s role in squashing the internal investigation and exposing shareholders, including the NYC Pension Funds, to additional risk as a result:

Wal-Mart’s failure to pursue a timely, independent investigation in fall 2005 has potentially exposed the corporation and its shareowners to even more serious financial and reputational harm. Two current inside directors, CEO Michael Duke and former CEO H. Lee Scott, were aware of the allegations and, in Mr. Scott’s case, took affirmative steps to shut down a thorough independent investigation.

Mr. Williams has been on Walmart’s board since 2004 and has been a member of the Audit Committee, the key committee charged with overseeing issues of internal controls and legal compliance, since 2005. Mr. Williams has chaired the Audit Committee since 2009. Since the New York Times surfaced the bribery allegations, Mr. Williams has consistently received some of the highest “no” votes from institutional investors at Walmart.

We hope that the addition of Walmart’s new CEO, Doug McMillon, and the departure of two longtime board members signals an ongoing change at the company. OUR Walmart member Barbara Gertz concluded her statement in response to the departure of Christopher Williams and Lee Scott with this:

The evidence suggests there may have been a sustained cover-up of the alleged FCPA violations, and despite excessive spending in legal fees, no one at Walmart has been held publicly accountable. Under misguided leadership, Walmart is moving in a direction of breaking and bending the rules, and declining same-store sales are the result. Instead, Walmart should invest in the heart of its business: workers who will help boost store sales, improve customer service and get business back on track. The entire country needs Walmart to provide better paying jobs now that will get the economy moving again.

We couldn’t agree more.