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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

Moms Fight Stagnant Wages and Precarious Work Schedules

schedyAcross the nation there is a growing conversation about the importance of raising wages and securing consistent hours for retail workers. At the forefront of the movement to improve jobs, it is increasingly common to find women leading the charge.

The retail sector employs more people than any other sector in America. The jobs it provides, primarily low-wage work, are disproportionately held by women. Many of these women have children and other dependents who also rely on their income. For this reason, Walmart moms have been at the forefront of the movement to build an economy that works for all families.

On June 6, Walmart moms went on strike during Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting to protest Walmart’s retaliation against workers who dare to speak out for change. Part of a larger movement through the Organization United for Respect (OUR Walmart), Walmart workers are calling on Walmart to publicly commit to implement changes that could substantially improve the lives of working parents including changes to pregnancy policy, scheduling, sick days and pay.

Walmart keeps wages low and cut employees’ hours at the expense of workers’ livelihoods and customer service. Heirs to the Walmart fortune, the Walton family, have more wealth than the bottom 42% of all Americans combined. Meanwhile, they continue to pay most of their workers less than $25,000 a year.

As the main breadwinners for their families, Walmart moms aren’t standing up simply for women or their families. They’re helping to inspire a larger movement for change that can benefit all working people.

A Tale of Two Maps

Originally posted on Making Change at Walmart

Recently, the real estate blog Movoto got a lot of press attention when it released this interactive map showing the richest individual in each state. The map revealed that three Walmart heirs are the richest person in their respective states. That list includes Christy Walton (in Wyoming worth an estimated $36.7 billion), Alice Walton (in Texas worth an estimated $35.3 billion) and Jim Walton (in Arkansas worth an estimated $35.7 billion).

The Waltons should have actually held Arizona as their fourth state as well, where Rob Walton resides with $34.2 billion.

Meanwhile, the majority of Walmart workers continues to make less than $25,000 a year.  A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that while managers received handsome compensation for their work, Walmart cashiers made just $8.48 an hour on average. This number is in stark contrast to the national average hourly wage for cashiers of $11.22.

With such low wages and inadequate hours, Walmart workers are often pushed to rely on food stamps and other government assistance programs to get by. Earlier this year, Americans for Tax Fairness released a report estimating that American taxpayers footed the bill for $6.2 billion in government programs to help support Walmart workers who could not get by on their low pay.

When set next to each other, these two maps tell the tale of a growing gap that everyone from Pope Francis to Standard and Poor has called problematic.

Tale-of-Two-Maps

As Walmart Workers Struggle, U.S. CEO Bill Simon Steps Down with $9 Million Retirement Package

10557532_857764227584809_361373269439561759_oLast week, Walmart’s U.S. CEO Bill Simon stepped down after five consecutive quarters of slumping sales and declining brand value. During Simon’s tenure, Walmart stores have been plagued with chronic understaffing due to the company’s low-wage, part-time business strategy, which has led to empty shelves, long lines, and—according to a new poll by Lake Research Partners—lower customer satisfaction.  Despite these failings, The Wall Street Journal reports that Simon will leave with a retirement package that is estimated to be worth around $9 million. Simon will be replaced by Greg Foran, Walmart’s current president and CEO in Asia.

As Simon leaves with a retirement package worth millions, current and former Walmart workers who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) continue to speak out about their struggle to support their families and contribute to their local economies because of low wages and insufficient hours.  Members of OUR Walmart are calling on the retail giant to publicly commit to raising wages and increasing access to full-time hours so that no worker at Walmart makes less than $25,000 per year. OUR Walmart members have also asked the retailer to stop its practice of retaliating against workers who are simply exercising their right to speak out for a better life and improved working conditions.

“It was Bill Simon who revealed the majority of us are paid less than $25,000 a year. Sadly, workers at Walmart face the same reality today of poverty wages and unpredictable schedules that have put the entire economy out of balance,” said OUR Walmart member Anthony Goytia, a father of three who works at a Walmart store in Duarte, Calif. “Mr. Foran should work with OUR Walmart to improve jobs at our company so we have the opportunity to join the middle class, strengthen our company’s bottom line and improve our nation’s economy. That means Walmart should publicly commit to pay us a minimum of $25,000 a year, provide full-time work and end retaliation against those of us who speak out for better jobs.”

Online, Workers Reveal the Truth About Working at Walmart

Originally posted on Making Change at Walmart

10380479_910933025590421_8801443623780142795_oWorking at the world’s largest private employer is no easy task. On top of receiving low-wages and inconsistent scheduling, many Walmart workers and managers alike continue to come forward  online to share their horror stories, documenting the lack of respect they experience.

As one manager recently told Gawker:

“Along with the ‘productivity’ issue used to terminate people and deny them unemployment rights, management seems to have a new weapon in their arsenal in the form of ‘Gross Misconduct/Ethics’. They pull this out like a cheap pistol and use it for any reason you can imagine to circumvent federal labor laws. Once a statement is written and approved by store management, you are terminated with no recourse.”

The former department manager goes on to warn Walmart workers to document everything, so management can’t easily dismiss them without reason.

While many of the recent terminations have been illegally retaliatory against workers who are standing up for their right to speak out for change at Walmart, workers report that everyone is vulnerable to seemingly arbitrary termination. In the same report to Gawker, a Walmart stocker of ten years reflects on the unrealistic work quotas the company assigns and the discipline that follows when someone fails to reach an unachievable goal.

“The truth of the matter is Walmart is a horrible place to work. These experiences happen to everyone who work for this company on a store level. It doesn’t matter if you are management or an associate you are always going to have to deal with these types of situations because life like this is the true Walmart culture.”

As workers continue to raise these questions, online forums and sites like Gawker have provided an easy and anonymous place for them to voice their dissent. You can read an extensive list of these stories on a previous Gawker post.

Walmart Workers Draw Attention to Marissa Mayer’s Stance on Workers’ Rights at Yahoo’s Shareholders Meeting

10497916_901782979838759_6680862683972847637_oToday, Walmart workers who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) are attending Yahoo’s annual shareholders meeting to draw attention to Yahoo CEO and Walmart board member Marissa Mayer’s refusal to speak out against Walmart’s illegal attempts to retaliate against workers who speak out for positive change.

What’s worse, it looks like Mayer is doubling-down on her ties to Walmart. Today, she’s nominating former Walmart CEO Lee Scott—who played a key role in limiting internal investigations related to Walmart’s alleged bribery of foreign officials—to join the board of Yahoo.

It’s bad enough that Mayer won’t stand up for workers’ rights, but now she’s spreading Walmart’s business model to the tech world.  Please sign a petition calling on Mayer to stand up for workers’ rights or step down from Walmart’s board. 

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WALMART MOMS ATTEND WHITE HOUSE SUMMIT ON WORKING FAMILIES

speak-up-300x200This week, Walmart moms who are members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) attended the White House Summit on Working Families.  They spoke with attendees about their concerns regarding the retail giant’s low-wage, part-time business practices.

Walmart is the largest employer of women in the country, and it’s 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.

Charmaine Givens-Thomas, a Walmart mom who attended the White House summit, launched a petition last year asking President Obama to make good on his promise to tackle income inequality and meet with Walmart workers that are calling for better jobs and an end to illegal retaliation. The petition has over 200,000 signatures.

“Walmart moms like me are living the reality of the income inequality the president has been talking about,” said Givens-Thomas, a mother and grandmother who has worked at Walmart for over eight years and only makes $23,000 a year. “We want the president to meet with us to hear how Walmart is fueling the income equality crisis—and how the company could easily fix this problem by providing full-time work for at least $25,000 a year.”

To sign the petition asking President Obama to meet with Walmart workers, visit http://action.changewalmart.org/page/s/mainstreetpresident.

“The White House Summit on Working Families Needs to Hear Worker Voices”–A Guest Blog by OUR Walmart Member Bene’t Holmes

Benet-150x150As a 25 year old single mother I know the realities of trying to survive on low wages. I live with my five-year old son in Chicago and I work for Walmart, the world’s largest private employer and a company that made over $16 billion in profits last year.  In the nine short months I have worked for the giant retailer, my heartbreaking experiences have driven me to take action and stand up for pregnant and working mothers.

I work hard every day in hopes of a better life for me and my family. Achieving the American dream, while working at Walmart is nearly impossible. I have four family members who either still work or have worked for Walmart and all of us have been left wanting jobs with an employer that values our work, respects our voice, and provides real opportunity to earn a living. I have firsthand knowledge of how difficult it is being stuck in a cycle of low wages and unstable schedules that prevent me and other workers from getting ahead and being independent.

I struggle to take care of my family on the poverty wages I earn working for Walmart. I work full-time and make under $9 an hour, which comes out to only about $15,000 a year. Because of my low wages, I cannot afford a home for my family and must rely on others to survive. Despite my best efforts to be financially independent, I recently had to apply for food stamps. And that is just of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my struggles working for Walmart.

In February of this year, I suffered one of the most devastating losses of my life. I was four months pregnant when I asked my manager for job duties that were less physically demanding.  I knew that the work I was performing was putting excessive strain on my body. Even though a doctor said I needed to work light duty, my manager denied my request and the next day I had a miscarriage while at work.

I asked for a leave of absence after the miscarriage to recover and was denied that request as well. To add insult to injury, my managers attempted to discipline me for my absences. Besides feeling betrayed by Walmart I questioned how a company that champions family could be so cold and heartless when one of its own employees is dealing with a tragedy.

I had to act—no woman should ever be put in that position again. I used my story to speak out and empower other women. I found out about the associate-led Organization United for at Respect (OUR) Walmart and fought to have my leave approved. Working with OUR Walmart, my request was eventually granted and all disciplinary actions against me were dropped. Building on that momentum, I became involved with the “Respect the Bump” campaign to ensure that all pregnant women at Walmart are able to get light duty when they need it.

The White House Summit on Working Families needs to hear our voices. Millions of workers, especially working women, have stories similar to mine. They are trapped in a cycle of low wage jobs with unpredictable hours that make it difficult to raise a family. My hope is this event will help elevate the ongoing national conversation about making today’s workplaces better for everyone, including working mothers like me.

I believe the work I am doing through OUR Walmart will bring about needed change at my company. Obviously, more can be done to better the lives and circumstances of working women and their families. The White House Summit on Working Families is the perfect place to highlight and advance this effort.

Bene’t is traveling to Washington, D.C., to attend the White House Summit on Working Families. The Summit will be held on June 23 and is hosted by the Center for American Progress, partnered with the White House, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

image credit: religionandrace.org

image credit: religionandrace.org

Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and a member of the Retail Justice Alliance, spoke at Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting last week in support of the Walmart moms who protested the company’s continuing retaliation against workers who speak out for positive change:

 

At Walmart’s Annual Shareholders Meeting, Shareholders Vote for Change of Course and New Leadership

Reposted from Making Change at Walmart

10371499_578970018887532_7875990036966403250_nInvestor Unrest Grows with Falling Sales, Continuing Out-of-Stock Issues, Escalating Legal Problems. New Poll Confirms Poor Worker Treatment Hurting Company’s Sales

Fayetteville, AR –Sending a message to the Walmart heirs who control the company, a growing number of institutional investors, independent shareholders, analysts and advisors are raising concerns – and proposing changes – at Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting Friday. The actions come as Walmart reports falling sales for five consecutive quarters and the company reports losing up to $3 billion a year because of stocking problems. Additionally, the increase in consumer concerns around the treatment of Walmart workers and legal problems related to potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and federal labor laws have been factors motivating investors to vote for changes in leadership, governance and compliance.

new poll of consumers, released by Lake Research Partners Friday, confirms that concerns about Walmart’s pay and treatment of workers are influencing shopping habits. According to the survey, 25% of Walmart’s most loyal customers are shopping there less because of the company’s treatment of workers. In addition, among the 27% of consumers who rarely or never shop at Walmart, 36% say it’s because of “poor treatment of workers,” and 26% say it’s because Walmart “pays workers too little.”

“Walmart’s reputation as a low-paying employer is becoming a growing problem for the company’s bottom-line,” Lake Research concludes. “The good news for Walmart is that over a quarter of consumers confirm that if Walmart’s treatment of workers improved, their likelihood of shopping at the retailer would increase.”

OUR Walmart, the three-year old organization of Walmart associates, has been raising concerns about the company’s illegal retaliation, low pay and erratic scheduling. The group is calling on CEO Doug McMillon to publicly commit to paying workers a minimum of $25,000 a year, putting an end to part-time and temporary work and ending the retaliation against workers who speak out. The group says the Walton heirs – America’s richest family – have led the company to a low point, defined by the hardship they are creating for working families, the inexcusable lack of oversight of its supply chain and alleged bribery and subsequent cover-up.

Speaking from the floor of the shareholders meeting on proposal #4, which calls for an independent chairman of the board, Walmart associate, shareholder and OUR Walmart member Charmaine Givens-Thomas pointed out the connections between staffing problems and customer service concerns:

“We do not have enough trained associates in our stores to keep our shelves stocked. Backrooms are piling up because there aren’t enough people to get things on the floor. So we struggle to deliver the customer service we pride ourselves on. And without excellent service, sales suffer. Our company must invest more in associates and give them the respect they deserve, so we can be even more productive, which benefits us as associates and shareholders. We need a leader at the top who thinks only of what is best for our company, its associates and all shareholders.”

Dr. Iva Carruthers, with the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes and Zevin Asset Management, will speak on proposal #6, which asks Walmart to provide a report on its lobbying expenditures. She plans to address the room questioning the company’s possible lobbying efforts around food stamp cuts and the minimum wage:

“As shareholders, customers, and citizens, we are concerned that Walmart may be putting money behind policies that harm our company’s image, threaten its bottom-line, and compromise the value of our shares. For example, some of Walmart’s sales come from food stamps used by both Walmart associates and customers. We need to know if our company’s lobbying efforts supported food stamp cuts that led to lower sales.

Walmart moms, some of whom have been on strike for a week, shared their concerns on the 10 top things to understand about the company’s health outside the shareholders meeting.

“The call for change at Walmart is the loudest it has ever been,” said Moronica Owens, a Walmart mom paid less than $25,000 a year – like the majority of Walmart workers. To make sure her son has enough to eat, Moronica skips meals herself. “We feel like change is really possible – and it couldn’t be more urgent. Our resolve to improve jobs at Walmart is strengthened by such a diverse group of shoppers, investors, and associates joining us in the calls for change at Walmart.”

A new report from the independent public policy organization Demos argues that Walmart could use the $6.6 billion it spent on repurchasing stock in 2013 to instead invest in its 825,000 workers making less that $25,000 per year, putting an extra $5.13 an hour in their pockets.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.