September, 2014

Call Walmart Now and Tell the Company Women Shouldn’t Be Fired Just for Being Pregnant

This article was originally posted by Jobs with Justice.

It’s been more than six months since Walmart, which was under pressure from associates and women’s organizations, agreed to change its pregnancy policy to provide basic accommodations for employees experiencing complications with their pregnancies. But a Walmart store in Chicago reveals the company has fallen far short of truly implementing its policy to support pregnant workers.

In April, store associate Thelma Moore was injured by falling TV boxes while shopping at the Chatham Walmart on her day off. Then two months pregnant, her doctors recommended she stay home for two weeks, then made a list of accommodations she needed in order to return to work, including not lifting boxes over 25 pounds and being able to take water breaks every two hours. Thelma filled out the necessary paperwork but was told no positions were available that could accommodate her. Walmart then fired her for missing too many days.

Unfortunately, Thelma’s case is not an isolated one. In February, her co-worker Bene’t Holmes suffered a miscarriage on Walmart property when she was four months pregnant after being denied her request to stop stocking chemicals and lifting heavy boxes.

Workers’ at Thelma’s store and the community in Chicago have been organizing to support women like Thelma and Bene’t – so far they have collected petition signatures, sent a delegation to the manager and held a prayer vigil.

Now, we need your help to turn up the heat. Call 1-800-WALMART (925-6278) today to demand the Chatham store in Chicago reinstate Thelma and comply with Walmart’s pregnancy accommodation policy.

Here’s why your call matters. If the Walmart customer service line receives 200 complaints about the Chatham store, it will trigger an investigation by the home office.
Thelma Moore was fired from her store after requesting accommodations for her pregnancy.

Here’s a helpful script for your call:

Hello, I’m calling to register a serious complaint about your Chatham store in Chicago (store #5781). I have learned that Thelma Moore, an associate at the store, was injured by falling boxes while shopping in her store on her day off. Her doctors recommended several accommodations to her job to protect the health of her pregnancy, but instead of accommodating her needs, the company fired her. Expecting mothers should not lose their jobs for making reasonable requests recommended by their doctor. I demand you reinstate Thelma Moore and follow the company’s new pregnancy policy.

As you make your call, members of Respect the Bump and Chicago Jobs With Justice will be demonstrating at Thelma’s store. Follow along with the protest with the hashtag #WalmartMoms. You can also let us know how your call went by commenting below!

While Thelma fights to get her job back, she and other members of Respect the Bump, an organization of pregnant women and new moms at Walmart, continue to hear from women who are being denied accommodations. It’s clear that Walmart needs to take action to ensure that their policy is fully implemented and enforced at every store, and go further to extend basic accommodations to all pregnant women who have a medical need for them, whether they have complications or a normal pregnancy.

As the largest private employer of women in the country, Walmart should set the standard for how women workers are treated throughout the industry and our economy. The stories of women like Thelma and Bene’t highlight the need for Congress to take action – including passing the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act – as well as the significance of the upcoming oral arguments in the pregnancy discrimination Supreme Court case Young v. United Parcel Service, which is scheduled to start December 3.

Watchdog Groups, Employee-Shareholders File FEC Alleging that Walmart is Running Illegal PAC Scheme

Originally posted on Making Change at Walmart

10689753_892828714078360_4790382431542889762_nGroups are alleging that Walmart illegally pushes associates into contributing to its political action committee, circumventing a federal law that bars companies from putting corporate funds into political campaigns.

Public Citizen, Common Cause and two Walmart employees and shareholders filed a charge with the Federal Elections Committee today. In the complaint, the two employee-shareholders, Cynthia Murray and Evelyn Cruz, allege in detail a program in which Walmart reportedly solicits the company’s managers to donate to Walmart’s PAC. In exchange, Walmart reportedly pledged to donate twice the amount of those contributions to its Associates in Critical Need Trust.

This complaint argues that this program is illegal under the Federal Election Campaign Act, which bars companies from making contributions to federal candidates, parties, or PACs.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen noted that “WalMart is attempting to evade this law by providing a 2-to-1 charitable match from corporate coffers for any campaign contribution to its PAC from company managers. That flouts the law by using substantial corporate money to reward campaign contributors.”

In the past, the FEC has approved some charitable matching schemes, but those programs have been limited to a 1-to-1 match or less, with each donor choosing the benefitting charity-not the company as in this case.

The likes of this funding scheme by Walmart has never been approved by the FEC.  Here, the reportedly 200% matching rate provides such a powerful incentive that the campaign contributions lose their “voluntary” nature.  And these corporate contributions reportedly made exclusively to Walmart’s own charity, along with the campaign contributions to Walmart’s PAC, are simply self-serving for the company.

Murray, who has worked at a Walmart store in Laurel, Md., for 15 years and owns shares in the company, pointed out that such schemes are a fundamental challenge to our country’s democracy:

“Multibillion-dollar corporations like Walmart are able to skirt the rules that the rest of us follow. With the majority of Walmart workers being paid less than $25,000, it’s not surprising that Walmart needs to set up a fund to help employees in need. Most of us are in need every day. With more than $16 billion in annual profits, Walmart can afford to pay us more instead of paying expensive lawyers to help them manipulate electoral laws and taxpayers.” 

Like Murray said, data from Open Secrets shows that since the 2000 election cycle, Walmart’s PAC has spent over $13 million on federal elections, which has gained the company outsized influence on our democratic process.

Common Cause President Miles Rapoport says “It’s breathtaking. Walmart is running a cynical and likely illegal scheme to get its underpaid workers to help the company leverage its economic power in the political sphere.” The actions that warranted the FEC charge fall in line with Walmart’s chronically bad behavior when it comes to pushing others down and bending and breaking rules to get ahead.

Additionally, the Walmart PAC has given more than $2.5 million to members of the U.S. House of Representatives who opposed increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 last year. Among House members who voted on the proposed minimum wage increase, nearly two-thirds of the Walmart PAC’s contributions went to those who voted no. The Washington Post has reported that Walmart’s lobbying disclosures suggest it started lobbying last year on the minimum wage and Fair Minimum Wage Act, despite public statements that it is “neutral” on the issue.

Reportedly pressuring already financially-strapped employees for political donations and lobbying against increasing the minimum wage tell us one thing: it’s clear that Walmart truly doesn’t care about the well-being of its associates.

To see the FEC complaint, click here.

Retail Justice Alliance Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

hhm rjaHispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15) provides us with an opportunity to pay tribute to the many positive contributions the Hispanic community has made to our country.

Although Hispanics are the second largest ethnic group in the country, too many Hispanic workers are employed in low-wage, part-time jobs.  Over 14 percent of Hispanic workers are employed in the retail sector, and many of these workers are struggling to survive in low-wage, part-time jobs with little to no benefits. The assault on workers’ rights in this sector continues to persist, and in many cases, retail workers who want to stick together to bargain for better wages and benefits are threatened, intimidated and sometimes fired by their employers.

As the gap between the rich and poor continues to grow, the need to mobilize for social and economic justice has never been stronger.  The Retail Justice Alliance stands with our Hispanic brothers and sisters this month and every month as we fight to improve jobs in the retail sector.

Color of Change Calls on Walmart to Release Surveillance Tapes of Crawford Shooting

eric_garnerRashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change and a member of the Retail Justice Alliance, is calling on Walmart to release surveillance tapes after 22-year-old John Crawford, III was killed by police while shopping at a Walmart store in Ohio last month.

For more information and to sign the petition, visit:

http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/ReleaseTheTapes/?source=MCAW

Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor Is ‘Unsustainable,’ New Study Finds

Income-InequalityA new study by the Harvard Business School argues that America’s wealth gap is ‘unsustainable’ and U.S. living standards must be lifted so that both businesses and workers can succeed.  The study was based on a survey of over 1,900 of Harvard Business School alumni from around the world

Titled An Economy Doing Half Its Job, the study focuses on the troubling historical economic departure from American companies and workers thriving together as they did after World War II, or suffering together as they did during the Great Depression.  Instead, the study points out, the gap between the rich and poor is widening as large and mid-size companies and highly skilled individuals have recovered and are prospering after the Great Recession, while middle and working class workers and small businesses are struggling.  The study argues that “such a divergence is unsustainable” and challenges business leaders to find ways to both profit and lift up the living standards of workers.

This new report joins a growing number of studies about the lingering effects of the Great Recession on America’s workers and the growing gap between the rich and poor.

 

 

Retail Justice Alliance Stands with IKEA Workers

Dan StillwellIKEA was widely praised as a leader in the retail industry this summer after the retailer pledged to raise starting wages at each store to match local living wage levels. While this action is commendable, the raises only apply to new hires and not to current IKEA employees.

Many IKEA workers like Dan Stillwell have invested years at IKEA, and simply want chance to share in the success of the company they helped make profitable. Long-time IKEA workers like Dan have come together across the country to start a petition because they believe that all IKEA workers deserve a raise, not just new hires.

The Retail Justice Alliance stands with all IKEA workers as they fight for fair wages and full-time hours so that they can support their families and contribute to their local economies and communities. Please join us in supporting this petition.