April, 2015

Following Retaliatory Closures, Walmart Workers Take Legal Action

Supported by elected officials, clergy and community members, group files for injunctive relief with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of workers

Local school board launches resolution calls on Walmart to consider economic impact to local community, transfer and reinstate workers

11174655_1092389480778107_6579073321344252761_oNATIONWIDE —Yesterday Pico Rivera Walmart workers withOUR Walmart filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board in response to Walmart’s retaliatory store closings. Last week, Walmart abruptly closed 5 Walmart stores in four states due to an alleged national plumbing emergency. However, city officials point out that the company has obtained no permits to begin repairs in any of these locations. Walmart has failed to offer any evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Among the five stores was the Pico Rivera, California Walmart Supercenter, which has been the hotbed for worker action. The store is also of symbolic important to the low-wage worker movement, as it sparked the Walmart and fast food strikes when it was the first store to go on strike in October of 2012. Workers from the store also held the first large sit-down strike and participated in civil disobedience in the weeks prior to last Black Friday.

“This is a new low, even for Walmart,” said Venanzi Luna, an eight-year Walmart worker and long-time OUR Walmart member. “It’s just so heartless to put thousands of your employees out of a job with no clear explanation on just a few hours’ notice. We know that Walmart is scared of all we have accomplished as members of OUR Walmart so they’re targeting us. Through OUR Walmart, we’re going to keep fighting back until the company gives us our jobs back. It’s unfortunate that Walmart has chosen to hurt the lives of so many people, just to try to conceal their real motives of silencing workers just like they’ve always done.”

Workers are asking the National Labor Relations Board to see injunctive relief under section 10j of the National Labor Relations Act. They are calling on the National Labor Relations Board to compel Walmart to rehire all of the workers who were terminated in all five stores and reinstate them to their own stores or transfer them without loss of pay until they can be reinstated to their stores. A 10j injunction is designed to allow the court to act quickly to remedy such extreme violations without the long delay which is anticipated for NLRB proceedings.

As the filing notes, this is not the first time Walmart has taken dramatic action to quell worker action. In June of 2014, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Walmart had violated labor law when it closed the Jonquiére, Quebec Walmart store. The workers in that store had voted to join a union, becoming the first unionized store in North America just before it closed. In 2000, butchers in aJacksonville, Texas Walmart voted to join UFCW Local 540. Two weeks later, Walmart closed its 180 meat departments in stores nationwide and switched to prepackaged case ready meat only. More recently, Walmart fired and disciplined more than 70 workers who participated in strikes in June 2013. An Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB has found merit to claims against Walmart and additional claims are currently being prosecuted by the General Counsel of the NLRB against Walmart.

“Walmart’s choice to close one of the most vocal stores in the fight for $15 and full time is a clear and direct assault on all workers’ rights,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “As a country, we cannot sit back quietly as our nation’s largest private employer is allowed to lay off thousands of people in an attempt to silence them from speaking out for better wages, hours and respect on the job.”

Community members and elected officials have also come out in support of Walmart workers. The El Rancho Unified School District, in which the Pico Rivera store is located, will vote on a resolution in support of the laid off Pico Rivera Walmart workers. The resolution “calls on Walmart to consider the economic hardship their decision has caused for their 530 Associates from the Pico Rivera store and their families and commit to transfer all of the Associates to surrounding Walmart stores before new people are hired to fill positions in those stores…”

Other community members also attended yesterday’s press conference to call attention to the impact of Walmart’s actions on their neighborhoods, congregations and communities.

“It is a scandal against all that is righteous, though it is unfortunately not surprising, that Walmart, the economic Pharaoh who cannot see workers as people but only as expense lines, has again decreed unemployment and poverty and suffering on 530 workers here, and similar numbers in four other stores,” said local Rabbi Aryeh Cohen. “In November, I joined other clergy and community leaders and workers in an act of civil disobedience to support the brave workers who sat down and struck in order to stand up with dignity. We then demanded $15 an hour and access to full employment. Today our demands have not changed. However, we also demand that Pharaoh rehire all 530 workers, give them priority before hiring other workers for less pay, and support the fired workers beyond the mandated 60 days.”

Workers promised that they would continue to fight the company’s retaliatory closures with bold action until the company meets their calls for reinstatement, transfer with equal pay and compensation in the interim and finally, the opportunity to return to their stores when they reopen.

“Allowing Walmart to get away with such a blatant attack on the rights of workers’ in our community would open the door for any employer to simply develop ‘plumbing issues’ whenever workers stood up for change in their workplace,” said SEIU 721 Chief of Staff Gilda Valdez. “We need to send a message to Walmart and all employers that in our community, the rights of working people must be respected. That’s why we’ll continue to stand with Walmart workers as they fight to get back to work and for change at the world’s largest private employer.”

OUR Walmart, Fast Food Workers Join Forces in the Fight for $15

This week, members of OUR Walmart joined forces with fast food workers and thousands of other low-wage workers and community allies across the country as part the Fight for $15 movement. Held on April 15, the massive mobilization cast a light on the struggles of low-wage workers who work for our country’s most profitable companies, such as Walmart and McDonald’s, and the role these companies have played in perpetuating inequality in America.

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to pressure and raised wages for 500,000 workers.  Weeks later, McDonald’s, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Dominos followed suit.  While these modest raises are a small victory, they’re not nearly enough to raise a family or keep food on the table without depending on public assistance to get by.

For-15-300x149Walmart can afford to pay all of its 1.3 million workers at least $15 per hour and provide access to full-time, consistent hours.  The company makes between $16 and $17 billion a year in profits, and just four members of the Walton Family—heirs to the Walmart empire—have a combined family fortune that is estimated to be nearly $150 billion. Their net worth is greater than the wealth held by 42 percent of American families combined!

“To think just a few years ago only a few of us would dare to stand up to companies like Walmart and McDonalds, and yet today tens of thousands of us are in the streets across the world,” said Latavia Johnson, a cake decorator at Walmart in Granite City, Ill. “We know that these companies are feeling the pressure, but the truth is, their tiny wage increases – especially with no guarantee of hours – still leave people like me struggling to keep food in my cabinets. I make $8.85 an hour and average only 20-30 hours a week. It’s impossible to feed my children, let alone myself, on that pay. That’s why I’m here today and that’s why I’ll keep standing up for the $15 an hour we need to care for our families.”

To sign the OUR Walmart petition that publicly calls on Walmart and the Waltons to raise wages to $15 per hour and provide access to full-time hours, visit http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/For15.



OUR Walmart, Fast Food Workers Will Join Forces on April 15

FightFor15-April15On April 15, members of OUR Walmart will join fast food, home care and airport workers across the country in the ongoing fight for decent pay, better schedules, and respect on the job at our country’s most profitable companies as part of the Fight for $15 movement.

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to pressure and raised wages for 500,000 workers.  Weeks later, McDonald’s, Target, TJ Maxx and Marshalls followed suit.  While these modest raises are a small victory, they’re not nearly enough to raise a family or keep food on the table without depending on public assistance to get by.

When we stand together, we win.  Let’s show companies like Walmart and McDonald’s that we’re ready to keep fighting for change and holding them accountable. With billions in profits each year, these companies can afford to pay working people a decent wage.

For more information about the actions on April 15, visit https://actionnetwork.org/forms/winning-raises-winning-changes.  You can also sign the OUR Walmart petition that publicly calls on Walmart and the Waltons, heirs to the Walmart empire, to raise wages to $15 per hour and provide access to full-time hours by visiting http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/For15.

Wage Hikes at Walmart Are Not Sufficient, New Report Highlights

ATF fact 1-edit
Walmart’s plans to raise wages for 500,000 hourly employees, starting at $9 per hour for its lowest paid workers in April 2015 and $10 per hour in 2016, will still require billions in taxpayer subsidies to compensate for the retail giant’s low-wage, part-time business strategy, according to a new report by Americans for Tax Fairness.

The report, titled The Walmart Tax Subsidy: Walmart’s Wage Hike to $10/Hour Still Requires Large Taxpayer Subsidies, points out many Walmart workers being paid $9 or $10 per hour for 34 hours per week (which is considered full-time at Walmart) would still qualify for public assistance, such as food stamps. Increasing Walmart wages to $15 per hour and full-time hours to 40 hours per week would enable many Walmart workers to be lifted above the income levels that qualify for public subsidies.

Members of OUR Walmart have launched a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons, heirs to the Walmart empire, to raise wages to $15 per hour and provide access to full-time hours.  To sign the petition, visit http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/For15.atf-fact3



OUR Walmart Statement on McDonald’s Wage Announcement

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

11080775_1079418722075183_3578858123948433137_oToday, McDonald’s announced it would raise wages for 90,000 workers. The following isOUR Walmart’s response:

“We are glad to hear that like Walmart, McDonald’s is starting to respond to the concerns of its workers around wages, hours and our rights on the job. While this is an important first step, McDonald’s and Walmart’s modest wage increases still don’t pay us enough to be able to feed our families or pay our rent without relying on government assistance,” said Diana Tigon, a Walmart cashier from Arlington, TX who makes $9.50 an hour. “We know now more than ever that our voices are being heard and we’ll continue to stand for a real wage of $15 an hour and full-time, consistent schedules.”