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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.

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.