Last month, Making Change at Walmart aired ads during the first Democratic presidential debate with the purpose of bringing the struggles of Walmart workers and retail workers into America’s living rooms. The ads reached over 30 million people, got covered by national media outlets, and the #OurWalmartVoices hashtag was used by thousands on Twitter and Facebook.
In order to keep the issues facing America’s retail workers a centerpiece of the 2016 presidential campaign, the ads aired again during the second Democratic debate and Making Change at Walmart announced an “Are You With Us?” initiative that calls on all presidential candidates to tweet their support for Walmart and retail workers. The ads again were the most talked about of the debate and #OurWalmartVoices was a trending topic during the debate. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted the ad, saying that Walmart “has gotta start paying living wages to their workers, not starvation wages.”
Workers Challenge IKEA’s American Labor Relations Record by Calling for Union Recognition
BOSTON – Today, workers at the IKEA furniture store in Stoughton, Mass. filed with the company for union recognition. While IKEA USA has union manufacturing plants in Danville, Va., and IKEA Group prides itself on positive relationships with unionized workers in stores around the world, this is the first time that IKEA retail workers in the United States have formed a union.
The bargaining unit consists of workers in the Goods Flow In department. The workers are joining the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), the nation’s largest private sector union with 1.3 million members.
“I love working at IKEA, and I want to make a career here,” said eight year IKEA co-worker Chris DeAngelo. “A union is the best way to work together to live our values and build an even better IKEA. We’ve gone through a lot at our store, but this is a chance to turn over a new leaf and reset the relationship between IKEA’s hard-working men and women and management. If IKEA does what is right and chooses to recognize our union today, it will show that IKEA respects our right to join a union without fear of retaliation or harassment.”
Workers are seeking union recognition in an NLRB process that allows an employer to voluntarily recognize a union when workers demonstrate majority support. An overwhelming majority of Goods Flow In workers have signed a public petition to join the union. A copy of the petition can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Boston-area IKEA store has been the subject of a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaint filed in Boston, alleging that the company violated federal law by unlawfully infringing on the right of workers to engage in protected union activity. The company has since settled the complaint with the NLRB.
The effort to improve the lives of IKEA workers has garnered domestic and international support. Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, stated, “here at the meeting of our World Executive Board, the affiliates of UNI, representing 20 million workers, including those working at IKEA stores the world over, have stated their unequivocal support for the brave actions of workers in IKEA Stoughton”. Jennings continued, “we call on IKEA to listen to the workers at Stoughton and recognize their union rights; and we have today committed to stand with these workers until they have a union contract.”
UNI Global Union is an international federation of unions, representing the unions of IKEA retail workers around the world.
Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org
We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.
UNI Global Union, based in Nyon, Switzerland, represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade. UNI and our affiliates in all regions are driven by the responsibility to ensure these jobs are decent and workers’ rights are protected, including the right to join a union and collective bargaining.
Last week, the Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) campaign released the following statement responding to news that the company announced it was predicting a drop in annual profit – an announcement that led to shares of Walmart dropping to their lowest point in three years.
“Walmart should be ashamed for trying to blame its failures on the so-called wage increases. The truth is that many hard-working Walmart employees all across the country began seeing their hours cut soon after the new wages were announced. The idea that this truly drove down Walmart’s profits is a fairytale,” said Jess Levin, communications director for MCAW. “The reality is that customers want a Walmart to reflect their values, and until that changes the company will continue to struggle. It is time for Walmart and other retailers to wake up and hear the change the American people and their customers want.”
MCAW released two ads earlier last week that highlighted the struggles that many Walmart and retail workers face every day. Those ads, “Replaceable” and “Real Change,”debuted during the Democratic debate Tuesday night and continued to run nationally throughout the week.
In a direct effort to reach all the 2016 presidential candidates, the hard-hitting ad campaign will feature the difficult and troubling experiences of a diverse group of current and former Walmart workers. From poor wages and benefits, to decreasing hours and difficult scheduling, the ad campaign highlights the emotional impact that many workers, and their families, face at Walmart and all across the retail industry.
The first phase of the #OurWalmartVoices ad campaign will feature two 30-second commercials. The first, called “Replaceable,” will highlight the experiences of hard-working retail workers at Walmart. The second, called “Real Change,” specifically calls on the Democratic presidential candidates, as well as the Republican candidates, to stand with them, their families, and workers who are just like them in their effort to change retailers like Walmart for the better. Both ads can be viewed at theHelpChangeWalmart.com, as well as at UFCW.org.
The ad campaign will first air nationally during the CNN debate and then continue a national run the following two days on CNN. Online, the ad will appear on Facebook and Twitter. In total, the ad will be seen more than 34 million times.
The #OurWalmartVoices ad campaign is part of a larger grassroots effort that will also include targeted social media and on-the-ground actions across multiple states, designed to reach Walmart and retail workers all across the country. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all candidates, Republican or Democrat, take notice of the struggles of retail workers, and to also highlight these real issues as part of the 2016 race for the White House.
Originally posted by AFL-CIO
In a new report released this week, Latino Workers and Unions: A Strategic Partnership for America’s Progress, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement details the work environment for Latinos in the U.S. workforce. The picture the report paints isn’t a pretty one. Here are 11 important facts about Latino workers in the United States:
1. The Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States, currently at more than 55.4 million (17% of the overall population).
2. More than 26 million Latinos represent about 15% of the workforce, a number expected to nearly double by 2050.
3. In 2013, nearly one in four Latino families lived below the poverty line, nearly twice the national poverty rate.
4. Nearly one-fourth of Latinos work in low-wage jobs.
5. In 2014, the Latino unemployment rate was 6.7%, above the national rate of 5.5%.
6. In 2014, the average nonunion Latino made just $547 a week.
7. More than two-thirds of Latinos lack retirement accounts, and more than 80% of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.
8. Nearly 30% of Latinos lack health insurance.
9. More than three-fourths of Latino workers work in jobs where they face minimum wage or overtime pay violations.
10. In 2013, nearly 800 Latinos died at U.S. workplaces, the highest total since 2008.
11. Latinas on the job earn only 56% of what a white man earns and more than 75% of Latinas in the southern part of the United States report sexual assault being an issue in the workplace.
The report says that the key way for Latinos to improve this situation is through unions, a partnership that will yield many benefits for unions, too. The report concludes:
Although the current outlook for Latinos is uncertain, their potential for growth is impressive. Wielding over $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making huge gains in the workforce and electorate, it’s no surprise that the future for Latinos can be drastically different and positive. But in order to realize this potential, Latinos must harness their strengths and exert their voice in the workplace.
Gaining access to a union will be an essential step for Latino workers and their families. Through union representation, Latinos can achieve higher wages that will help them fight poverty and gain access to health and retirement benefits.
Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) presented at UNI’s Walmart Global Union Alliance meeting in Bogota, Columbia, to an audience of people working on Walmart and labor issues in Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa.
MCAW’s presentation discussed the campaign’s biggest victories from the previous year and future plans for the rest of the year and 2016, including plans for more coordinated media and ground campaigns. MCAW additionally discussed ways for the alliance to coordinate and promote the campaign work in their countries.
The alliance aims to further develop global and local labor relations with Walmart in order to find mutually beneficial solutions to promote the interests and well-being of Walmart’s workforce along with the success of the company.
A new study shows yet another benefit of unions you may not be aware of: The New York Times this week wrote about a study that “suggests that unions may also help children move up the economic ladder.”
The paper–written by researchers at Harvard, Wellesley and the Center for American Progress–essentially finds that children born into low-income families have a greater chance of ascending “to higher incomes in metropolitan areas where union membership is higher.”
The Times article points out that it seems that no other link to upward mobility is as strong as the one found in the study. It’s also another reason why the decline in union membership is so troubling.
Beyond the effect of unionization on parents’ wages, the researchers found that this trend is also attributed to the fact that “unions are effective at pushing the political system to deliver policies — like a higher minimum wage and greater spending on schools and other government programs — that broadly benefit workers.” Perhaps the best and most recent examples of this are seen in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, where the minimum wage has been raised significantly.
And the correlation between increased union membership and increased income earning percentile for children doesn’t just apply to children in the lowest percentile, but children of all households.
Interestingly, the study also found that “children with fathers who belong to a union have significantly higher wages than children who don’t. But when it’s the mother who belongs to a union, only the wages of daughters rise.”
When trying to determine why, the Times notes that “it’s possible that the explanation is sociological: Daughters with a mother who belongs to a union may be more likely to work themselves, which means they’re more likely to have higher wages. Or, put differently, union membership is helping to change social norms.”
What norms are unions changing exactly? “Giving workers a greater sense of agency.” That sense, that union workers have the power to speak out if they are mistreated, then spreads to their peers.
Richard B. Freeman, one of the study’s authors, summarizes the takeaway nicely: “things that have a small effect at the individual level can have a larger aggregate effect.”
Yesterday, former Walmart workers, with the help of the UFCW, Making Change at Walmart, and OUR Walmart, announced at a press conference that they had filed a second charge against Walmart with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regarding the retaliatory closing of the Pico Rivera, Calif., Walmart store. In the charge, workers allege that they were discriminated against in the transfer process due to their participation in protests for better wages, hours and working conditions.
“When Walmart closed our store, I knew it was because we had been leading the nationwide movement for $15 an hour and access to full-time, consistent hours,” said Jenny Mills, a nine-year Walmart worker who was listed on the charge. “Seeing who they did and did not transfer just reaffirmed that. Walmart intentionally refused to transfer those of us who have been the most vocal in standing up for fair wages and hours. That’s simply not just a coincidence.”
The workers were joined at the conference by community leaders, clergy and city residents calling for the reinstatement of all 530 laid off Pico Rivera Walmart workers. Despite the fact that there are 45 Walmart stores within 20 miles of the closed Pico Rivera store, Walmart has failed to transfer the most vocal workers in the fight for $15 an hour and access to consistent, full-time hours since the closure back in April.
“The Walmart store in Pico Rivera has been a valuable contributor to our local economy. However, as a massively profitable company like Walmart knows, for a vibrant economy to grow, people need a steady paycheck,” said Pico Rivera Mayor Gregory Salcido. “That’s why I’m urging Walmart to reinstate the 530 employees it laid off as soon as the store reopens. These families are an important part of our community and our economy. I’m hopeful that by working together, we can help our businesses and our families thrive.”
“Punishing workers by denying them a livelihood in this fashion isn’t only legally wrong; it’s morally wrong,” said Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “Brave workers entitled to a better life for their families now face spirit- and body-crushing stress because of Walmart’s unconscionable choice. We cannot let such injustices prevail. We must hear the voices of those fighting for what is right.”
On August 24, Walmart workers and supports protested outside of the Walmart store in Oakland, Calif., where Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was expected to be making a store visit. While McMillon never showed up, the protestors called on him to stop retaliation against workers who speak out about low wages and unfair working conditions at Walmart. The workers involved in the protest included some from the Pico Rivera store – one of five stores that Walmart abruptly closed last April for alleged “plumbing problems,” laying off more than 2,000 workers with just hours’ notice.
Denise Barlage, who worked at the now closed Pico Rivera, Calif., store said, “We need reinstatement of all Pico workers. I told the manager, I’m sure you’re a nice guy, but you should never feel that you can’t be downsized as well.”
Margaret Hooten who works at the Placerville, Calif., Walmart store said, “I support unjustly fired people. I’m not going away.”
The Pico Rivera, Calif., store that Walmart closed was one of the most vocal in the fight for $15/hr and respect on the job. It was the first store to ever go on strike back in 2012. More recently, workers from that store held sit-down strikes and even participated in civil disobedience.