May, 2015

Los Angeles Walmart Workers Rally for $15 and Full-time Hours

rjawmYesterday, ahead of the Walmart’s  June 5 shareholder meeting, Walmart workers and community allies in Los Angeles called for CEO Doug McMillon and the Walton family to end the retaliation against workers who speak out for change, and to publicly commit to pay a living wage of $15 per hour and provide access to full-time hours. Two dozen Walmart workers also began a 24-hour fast to highlight the hunger many Walmart associates and their families endure due to the company’s low wages and insufficient hours.

“I’m standing with Walmart workers because no one in our community should have to choose between paying rent and buying food—and especially not someone who works for the richest company in the world,” said Pastor Bridie C. Roberts, program director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “It is unconscionable for Walmart to punish their workers for standing together to improve their livelihoods.”

Earlier this year, Walmart caved to worker pressure and announced it would raise wages for 500,000 U.S. associates. But despite the modest increase—and without any guarantee of adequate hours —many workers are still forced to rely on government assistance programs like food stamps to get by. Meanwhile, the company escalated its retaliatory actions against associates to a new level last month when it abruptly closed five stores and laid off more than 2,000 workers, citing “plumbing issues.” Walmart has failed to offer any conclusive evidence of a plumbing emergency that would require the immediate closing of five stores. Workers at the Walmart store in Pico Rivera, Calif., one of the stores closed for alleged plumbing issues, are calling on the company to publicly commit to reinstating all laid off workers when the store reopens for business and to allow all workers, for the time being, to be transferred to one of the nearby 45 Walmart stores.

“It’s no coincidence that many OUR Walmart members from my store, including myself, have not been transferred to other Walmart stores even though we made the request shortly after the company unilaterally decided to close our store with just a few hours’ notice,” said Venanzi Luna, a Walmart worker from Pico Rivera.

Walmart workers are prepared to demand change and accountability from the world’s largest retailer at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting. Worker shareholders will present two resolutions intended to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.

Teresa Adams, one of the Pico Rivera store workers the company laid off, plans to join her coworkers at the shareholder meeting. “Walmart’s business model only works for the people at the very top, and that’s not right,” Adams said. “We’re fighting for $15 and full-time because that’s what we need to support our families.”


Walmart Worker-Shareholder Reacts to Retail Giant’s First Quarter Sales Report

DSC_6674Today, Walmart reported lower-than-expected quarterly U.S. same-store sales growth in its first quarter earnings report.  In response to the retail giant’s Q1 earnings report, OUR Walmart member and Walmart shareholder Teresa Adams of Pico Rivera, Calif., issued the following statement:

“Walmart’s weak earnings report this morning is telling, but it’s nothing new for the countless number of associates nationwide who have been calling for a change to the company’s low-road, low-wage business model over the past few years. When workers who are committed to the company’s success can’t secure much-needed pay and hours, they aren’t the only ones who suffer. Customers lose, and so do shareholders. Shelves aren’t properly stocked. Check-out lines are long. And the company’s reputation takes a hit when its employees don’t make enough money to stay off government assistance programs, At a time when Walmart needs to be investing more in its employees and stores, it closes four apparently profitable stores and lays off a reported 2,200 workers, while grasping at straws to justify the move. I think it’s no coincidence that OUR Walmart members were active in one of those stores.

“My fellow OUR Walmart members, like Shannon Henderson who made about $13,000 last year working as many hours as Walmart would let her, and I have been working to offer solutions to the problems that plague the company and its operations. CEO Doug McMillon has responded to one of our demands by raising wages for those of us at the bottom of the ladder, but it’s not enough. We all need higher wages and, even more importantly, we need more hours for ourselves and for our customers.

“OUR Walmart Associate-shareholders are going to the upcoming Walmart annual shareholder meeting, where we have submitted two shareholder proposals. We are encouraging shareholders to use their votes to rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and more hours for workers.

“It’s long past time for Walmart and the Waltons to take an honest and candid look at the concerns raised by investors, shareholders and customers. Treating associates with respect and providing adequate staffing and hours are fundamental to putting Walmart on the path to strong sales and success. And that’s the direction Walmart needs to go.”



As CEO Pay Continues to Rise, Walmart Workers Prepare to Call for Change at Retail Giant’s Shareholders Meeting

fb_textart_waltonfamilyAccording to new AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch data, CEO pay increased nearly 16 percent in 2014, while Walmart and the Waltons—heirs to the Walmart empire—continue to drive inequality nationwide.

Mega-retailer Walmart, highlighted in this year’s PayWatch, represents one of the most egregious examples of CEO-to-worker pay inequality. Walmart CEO Douglas McMillon is paid $9,323 an hour, while a new Walmart employee making $9 an hour would have to work 1,036 hours to earn what McMillon makes just 60 minutes. PayWatch also notes that six Walton family members have more wealth than 43 percent of America’s families combined.

“I made about $13,000 last year, working as many hours as the company would let me,” said Shannon Henderson, a Walmart employee and mother of two in Sacramento, California. “I work for the richest company in the world, and I can’t support my family without public assistance. That’s not right, and that’s why I’m not going to stop fighting for $15 and full-time.”

As Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting approaches, workers have announced their intention to propose a shareholder resolution that would rein in executive compensation and incentivize sustainable investment, such as fair wages and benefits for workers.


Honoring Retail Workers on Mother’s Day

retail momsMother’s Day is time to honor the many contributions that mothers make to our families and communities.  It’s also an opportunity to recognize the many working mothers in the retail sector who have mobilized to improve jobs at our country’s most profitable companies, such as Walmart and McDonald’s, and cast a light on the role these companies have played in perpetuating inequality in America.

Although the retail sector is an important employer of women and continues to add jobs to the economy, too many women in this industry are struggling in low-wage, part-time jobs with unpredictable “on call” scheduling.  On call scheduling puts workers in the vulnerable position of being called in to work a shift at just a moment’s notice, which makes it impossible to plan for competing life demands such as childcare and threatens their economic security.

For years, workers in the retail sector, including members of OUR Walmart, have called on their employers for better wages, benefits and schedules.  While their actions have led to wage increases at Walmart, McDonald’s, Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Dominos, more must be done to increase access to fair, flexible, and reliable scheduling so that retail workers can support themselves and their families

Retail jobs can and should be a source of stability for working mothers and their families. On Mother’s Day and every day, the Retail Justice Alliance stands with working mothers in the retail sector who are fighting to improve jobs in this important and growing industry.

New York AG Questions Scheduling Practices in the Retail Sector

Although the retail sector continues to add jobs to the U.S. economy, too many retail workers are struggling to survive in low-wage wage jobs with unpredictable scheduling practices that threaten their economic security and stand in the way of competing life demands.

Recently, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter to 13 retailers, including Target Corp., Gap Inc. and Abercrombie & Fitch Co., regarding their on-call scheduling practices, which require hourly retail workers to show up for work or stay home with little advance notice and no pay if the worker’s services are not needed. New York labor laws state that workers who are called in by their employers for a scheduled shift are entitled to at least four hours of pay at minimum wage even if workers are dismissed early and work less than four hours.

Economists and academics agree that access to education would narrow the current wealth gap, but many retail workers are unable to further their education because of unpredictable scheduling at work. Faced with losing more hours or even their jobs, many retail workers have been forced to drop classes and curtail their education in order to meet their employer’s demands. As income inequality continues to grow, it’s critically important that employers in the retail sector lead the way in making sure that retail workers have access to full-time hours and benefits so that workers in this growing industry have a pathway to the middle class.