November, 2014

Stand with Walmart Workers this Holiday Season

DSC_0028There is no company more responsible for driving income inequality through its low-wage, part-time business practices than Walmart—our country’s largest private employer. That’s why we should all be thankful that, during this holiday season, Walmart workers across the country are again leading the fight to change the way Walmart does business.

Leading up to Black Friday, these brave Walmart workers are going on strike, leading protests and even engaging in civil disobedience, and they deserve our thanks and support. The Retail Justice Alliance is standing with Walmart workers leading up to and on Black Friday as they defend their right to speak out for positive change in the workplace.  Please join us by signing up to attend a protest or holding your own event at a Walmart store near you by visiting http://blackfridayprotests.com/.

 

Walmart Workers Continue to Speak Out Ahead of Black Friday Actions

for rjaWalmart workers were busy this week as they prepared for Black Friday actions across the country.  This week, members of OUR Walmart testified on the Hill at a briefing with Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congressman George Miller (D-CA) about how Walmart’s low-wage, part-time business practices are creating an economic crisis for working families in America.  In another event this week, Walmart workers in Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Colombia, Argentina, India, Canada, Switzerland and the U.S. also called on Walmart to respect basic workers’ rights.  And yesterday, dozens of Walmart workers and supporters in Cincinnati and Dayton gathered at local Walmart stores to call on the company and its owners—the Waltons—to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time hours.

Next week on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of year, the Retail Justice Alliance will stand with members of OUR Walmart across the county as they fight for respect on the job.  Please join us in supporting these brave men and women as they defend their right to speak out by signing up to attend a protest or holding your own event at a Walmart store near you by visiting http://blackfridayprotests.com/.

We Want to Work Full-Time: IKEA Worker Speaks Out

IKEA-300x225For thousands of workers in the retail industry, working full-time doesn’t mean the security of a full-time job. Instead, many workers cobble together multiple part-time jobs with no benefits. The result, predictably, is lower wages, fewer benefits, and schedules that make life impossible for families.

But workers at IKEA are coming together in a campaign to change the corporate practices that deny workers full-time positions. The workers have gathered more than 6,000 signatures on a petition asking IKEA to offer every employee a full-time position. The workers have also taken their fight public, most recently giving an interview to PBS’s Newshour.

Dan Stillwell, a part-time worker from the IKEA store in Pittsburgh, Pa., spoke to Newshour about barely getting by while working seven days a week.

As Dan explained to Newshour, “I’d like to have one job with benefits – forty hours – to pay my bills and be able to save up for retirement. Or I won’t be able to stop working until I die.”

Dan works fifty hours each week, but is not eligible for benefits at either of his two part-time jobs. Without benefits, he cannot afford health insurance. After investing 16 years with IKEA, he only makes $9.25 an hour. But Dan’s story is familiar to many retail workers. That is why he joined IKEA workers from across the country to speak out for a union voice at work.

Dan first spoke out in an editorial to a Pittsburgh newspaper. Since then, IKEA workers have been gaining momentum in their push for full-time hours. Last month, workers from IKEA stores across the country traveled to IKEA’s North American headquarters to deliver their petition directly to the company’s top management. Now, media and economists are taking notice of the struggle of workers putting in full-time hours at part-time jobs.

You can watch Dan’s interview on PBS’s Newshour, or read more about his story in an editorial that he published in the Pittsburgh News-Gazette. To show your support for IKEA workers, sign their petition for full-time hours.

After Protests in Los Angeles, Walmart Workers Announce Black Friday Strikes

15788204405_fff199ba72_kToday, current and former Walmart workers who are members of OUR Walmart announced that they will strike across the country on Black Friday—November 28—to protest the retail giant’s illegal silencing of workers who are standing up for better jobs and the company’s low-wage, part-time business practices. OUR Walmart members will be joined by thousands of Americans—including teachers, voters, members of the clergy, elected officials, civil rights leaders and women’s rights activists—at 1,600 protests nationwide who will call on Walmart to raise wages to a minimum of $15 an hour and provide consistent, full-time work.

 The announcement comes on the heels of the first-ever sit-down strike in Los Angeles, where workers sat down in a Walmart store in Crenshaw and refused to move, holding a sit-in near cash registers and racks at the store for a two-hour period. The sit-down strike was followed by a protest at another Walmart store in Pico Rivera where dozens of Walmart workers were joined by hundreds of community allies and 23 people were arrested for civil disobedience.

As Black Friday approaches, please join us in supporting these brave men and women as they defend their right to speak out by signing up to attend a protest or holding your own event at a Walmart store near you by visiting http://blackfridayprotests.com/.

Raising the Minimum Wage Was a Winning Issue on Election Day

On Election Day, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota rejected the notion that the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 is sufficient for workers, and passed binding referendums to increase their minimum wages. Alaska’s minimum wage will increase to $9.75 by 2016. In Arkansas, the minimum wage will increase to $8.50 by 2017. Nebraska’s minimum wage will increase to $9 by 2016, and South Dakota’s minimum wage will increase to $8.50 by 2015.

While Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska and South Dakota join the growing number of states and localities that have raised their own minimum wage to levels higher than the federal rate, all Americans deserve a living wage and this problem calls for a federal solution. But despite widespread public support, House Republicans and big business continue to block efforts to raise the minimum wage. These Republicans and their corporate backers have stuck to the same old, tired argument that raising the minimum wage will be bad for businesses, despite findings from a recent study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research which found that states that raised the minimum wage experienced faster employment growth than the states that didn’t.

The value of the minimum wage has been declining for more than four decades, and if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would now be worth over $10 per hour. Yet, we are stuck at $7.25 per hour as more and more workers are either falling out of the middle class or struggling in poverty due to insufficient wages and more and more wealth is concentrated in the hands of the one percent.

Raising the current federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and indexing it to inflation would provide millions of workers with a living wage and boost our economy. It’s time for Republicans to address the many Americans who are struggling to get by and raise the minimum wage.