A group of Walmart associates marched today from the AFL-CIO to the Washington, D.C., Walton Family Foundation’s offices to deliver more than 15,000 signatures from workers asking Walmart to pay $15 an hour and provide full-time hours.
Shouts of “We’re fired up! Can’t take it no more!” rang out as the workers and hundreds of supporters and allies marched down I Street and made their way to the foundation offices. Before the workers attempted to deliver the petitions, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka reminded everyone that Walmart, which rakes in billions every year, wouldn’t make a dime without its workers, yet pays wages so low that many of its workers need to rely on public assistance and food stamps to get by.
One Walmart worker, Isaiah, shared heartbreaking stories of seeing co-workers cry in the Walmart break room when they found out their hours had been cut, making it impossible to provide for their families.
When the workers got inside the office, the building manager claimed no one from the Walton Family Foundation was working today (um, OK) and said they couldn’t call the office because they didn’t know the number. “We’ll be back,” shouted the determined workers, including Bene’t Holmes who was leading some of the chants. Holmes said they weren’t going to leave the petition with the front desk and promised this is not the last time they would attempt to hand deliver those signatures.
Following the demonstration outside the office, 15 Walmart workers and supporters sat down in a cross section of the street in front of Walmart heir Alice Walton’s condo and took arrest. See some aerial views from the action below:
The workers were accompanied by union members and allies from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), AFSCME, AFT, Jobs with Justice, UNITE HERE, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), UAW, United Steelworkers (USW), the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and many others.
See more tweets here and some photos from a similar action in New York City today:
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, ATU, labor, minimum wage, ROC, union, unite here, USW, Walmart, Walton Family
Walmart is hosting a manufacturing summit in Denver this week as part of its new program to supposedly invest in products made in America for its stores across the country. The retailer is claiming its new plan will invest $250 billion over the next decade and create 1 million jobs. We’re not buying it.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka addressed Walmart’s summit and announcement:
But workers will not benefit from a Walmart-ification of our manufacturing sector. Jobs in the Walmart model won’t restore America’s middle class or build shared prosperity given the company’s obsession with low labor costs and undermining American labor standards. And the company’s ‘commitment’ to American manufacturing is meaningless unless it actually increases the proportion of its products that are American-made.
Here are five reasons why Walmart’s plan is nonsense:
1. The whole thing is misleading. When you dig deeper, you find that all Walmart is doing is counting the company’s natural growth as “new” investment. If the company maintains its current percentages of U.S.-sourced goods and continues to grow at the same rate as it has the last three years, $262 billion will be spent on U.S.-made goods anyway without Walmart making any changes or doing anything new. Doing a little less than what you’ve been doing and calling it “progress” isn’t exactly admirable.
2. As Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing notes, Walmart’s altruism doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny:
…in some cases—the economics now favor “reshoring” of work back to the U.S., due to an emerging domestic energy cost advantage, rising wages in Asia, and wage stagnation in the U.S. (which Walmart might know something about). And don’t forget to consider the challenges that come from outsourcing: supply chain disruption, quality and inventory control issues, intellectual property theft, and high shipping costs.
3. Walmart is the biggest importer in the United States and it has been increasing how much it imports every year. The company now imports 2.5 times as much as it did in 2002. Walmart should make a solid commitment to cut back on its growth in imports, after decades of massive increases, to create a real net gain for American workers.
4. Walmart is off to a rocky start helping create U.S. manufacturing jobs. In the first year of the new plan, Walmart created only 2,000 new jobs, putting it way behind schedule toward reaching that goal of 1 million new jobs.
5. As the largest private employer in the nation, Walmart should start with itself to create real change for America. At the rate Walmart workers are paid, they won’t be buying many U.S.-made products or imports. Walmart must invest more in its own workforce if it wants a “buy American” strategy to succeed.
Walmart cashiers make, on average, less than $25,000 a year. An April 2014 study by Americans for Tax Fairness estimated that subsidies and tax breaks for Walmart and the Walton family cost taxpayers approximately $7.8 billion per year, including about $6.2 billion in assistance to Walmart workers due to low wages and inadequate benefits.
This initiative seems like an attempt to change the conversation from the need for Walmart to improve jobs for its 1.4 million retail workers in the United States. If Walmart is truly committed to rebuilding the American middle class, it can start with its own workers, most of whom make less than $25,000/year and struggle to make ends meet.
Walmart should use its two-day summit to prove the company is committed to real and substantive change and an end to corporate whitewashing.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Jobs, manufacturing, outsourcing, Richard Trumka, Walmart
As part of the ongoing Upworthy series, Workonomics, there will be an UpChat this Thursday to discuss how Walmart’s low wages mean that taxpayers end up subsidizing those workers to the tune of $6,000 per employee each year. Wages and benefits are so low for the country’s largest employer that many of the company’s workers are forced to take part in Medicaid, housing assistance, child care subsidies, food stamps and other government lifelines. Meanwhile, the Walton family, who owns the company, has more wealth than the bottom 40% of the country combined.
All you need to participate this Thursday, June 5, at 2 p.m. EDT is a Twitter account. Learn more details on how to participate in the UpChat and find the conversation on Twitter by looking up the hashtags #UpChat and #WalmartEconomy.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: food stamps, Medicaid, minimum wage, taxes, upworthy, Walmart, Walton Family
Workers at Walmart are mounting a new initiative not only to get their stories of how Walmart’s low wages, disrespect and intimidation are trapping them in a Walmart economy, but how millions of other workers and their families are caught in that same economy.
A Walmart economy is an economy of inequality manipulated by corporations like the $16 billion-a-year-in-profits retail behemoth and other corporations and 1 percenters like the Walton family, the richest in America.
To workers at Walmart, a Walmart economy means “having to decide between paying my bills and being able to take a day off work to stay with my sick daughter,” says LaShanda Myric, a Walmart worker in Denver.
For Richard Wilson who works at a Chicago Walmart, it means “….Working full-time, but not being able to pay back my student loans.”
What does the Walmart economy of inequality mean to you? Is it struggling to pay your bills or drowning in debt? Is it forgoing health care because you can’t afford health insurance or being unable to retire?
Use the hashtag #Walmarteconomy to tweet or post a photo or video to Instagram to say what the Walmart economy means to you. You also can go to the new Walmart Economy website and share your story.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: Corporate Accountability, economy, Jobs, minimum wage, Walmart
Imagine what it’s like to be 6 months pregnant, relying on the bus to get you to and from your two minimum wage jobs. How would it feel to have nothing left over after you paid for food and rent?
Nationally, his is a familiar plight for many low-wage workers. For Minnesota-based Judith Nunez, Jim Parsons and Lucila Dominquez, this is reality.
Yesterday, two of the Minnesota legislators participating in our Working America Minimum Wage Challenge sat down with minimum wage workers for a “Reality Check” meeting. The conversation shed a powerful light on what it means to be a minimum wage worker.
Dominquez, whose wages give her enough for food and shelter only, revealed that tough times have led her to advocate for workers’ rights. “I am unable to do anything else [with my money], which is why I’ve gotten involved in organizing for raising our wages and working conditions,” she said.
For Working America member Nunez, who is pregnant with her first child and often exhausted from her hectic work schedule and difficult commute, the fight for minimum wage is about equality and community. “We are all human beings and it shouldn’t be this hard for any of us to provide the basic needs we all share,” she says.
It shouldn’t be difficult, but the reality is that more than 200,000 Minnesotans are working for the minimum wage of $7.25, often for companies that post enormous profits. Among the 50 low-wage employers, 92 percent were profitable last year, and 63 percent are earning higher profits than they were before the recession. That’s the reality of minimum wage work in this country and this is what it looks like.
“I work at the Mall of America, where there are a huge number of people working for minimum wage. I see them work very hard and make a lot of money for the companies who employ them. It seems only right to me that their work should be valued at a higher level and all workers should be getting at least $9.50 (an) hour,” said Jim Parsons, a 53 year old father of three from South Minneapolis. Parsons, unable to find work in his field, works three part-time jobs to support himself and his three children.
These people, like so many others, are the face of minimum wage workers in America. They are not the stereotype of teenagers making extra pocket money. They are adults, current or expecting parents, oftentimes the breadwinners of their household. They work diligently, make tough choices like skipping meals, and still have difficulty making ends meet; often they end up relying on taxpayer-funded services like Medicaid and SNAP just to get by while their employers continue to pocket record profits.
“We all work hard, we all get tired, we all struggle to get by and we all deserve better,” Dominquez said.
Send a message to the Minnesota legislature: tell them it’s time to raise the minimum wage.
Tags: minimum wage, minimum wage challenge, Minnesota, Walmart
While 11.3% of U.S. workers officially belong to unions, the labor movement is much larger. The movement isn’t limited to official union members and the last year showed that, as workers marched side by side, union members or not, to fight back against injustices championed by corporate interests that are out of touch with America’s working families. As AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said at the federation’s constitutional convention in Los Angeles, “Politicians and employers want to divide us; they try it every single day. They want to tell us who can be in our movement and who can’t, and we can’t let them.”
An article at The American Prospect describes the trend of new ways workers are standing up for their rights:
Those government union membership statistics, however, don’t capture an entire swath of new, exciting and emerging labor activists—’alt-labor’ activists—whom alarmed employers would like to see regulated by the same laws that apply to unions. Yet, before we regulate them as unions, shouldn’t we first count them as unions?
Who isn’t being counted in those official numbers? A lot of people:
- Striking fast-food workers who are calling for a $15-an-hour wage.
- Walmart workers who went on strike for Black Friday.
- Day laborers who have joined one of hundreds of workers’ centers nationwide.
- Restaurant workers, home health care workers, taxi drivers and domestic workers organizing for workplace power outside traditional unions.
- Millions of members of Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
These numbers also don’t count people like the college athletes who are seeking to unionize and the many workers who are trying to form unions but are thwarted by employers or weakened labor law.
Some of the extremists opposed to these groups want them limited in their ability to organize, while not wanting to count them in the official numbers, so labor looks weaker. As the Prospect notes:
However, in a 21st century economy in which collective bargaining has been so severely weakened by structural changes and the roll back in workers’ rights, these new labor activists represent an important frontier for people concerned about worker power and economic inequality writ large. You know that workers are on to something when employers start to get nervous. It turns out the low union membership statistics may not be as good a measure of labor’s future as employers would hope.
And the reality behind those official statistics, and the rise of alt-labor, should be heartening to supporters of working families.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, black friday, collective bargaining, fast food, labor, minimum wage, Richard Trumka, Rights At Work, Walmart, Working America
The National Labor Relations Board filed an formal complaint yesterday against the retail behemoth Walmart, alleging that the company violated the rights of nearly 70 workers rallying over workplace conditions in 14 states.
The Los Angeles Times reports the complaint, the largest ever against Walmart, refers to charges made in November 2012 during the Black Friday actions by associates speaking out for respect on the job and for Walmart to publicly commit to provide regular hours and a living wage of $25,000 a year. The complaint alleges Walmart illegally fired and disciplined nearly 70 workers in 34 stores.
“Walmart thinks it can scare us with attacks to keep us from having a real conversation about the poverty wages we’re paid,” says Barbara Collins, a fired Walmart worker from Placerville, Calif., who is one of the workers named in the complaint. “But too much is at stake—the strength of our economy and the security of our families—to stay silent about why Walmart needs to improve jobs. Now the federal government is confirming what we already know: We have the right to speak out, and Walmart fired me and my co-workers illegally. With a new CEO taking over in a few weeks, we hope that Walmart will take a new direction in listening to associates and the country in the growing calls to improve jobs.”
Making Change at Walmart reported in a press release:
If Walmart is found liable, workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights. While historic, the complaint alone is not enough to stop Walmart from violating the law. Since the start of the year, Walmart has continued to retaliate against workers who speak out for better jobs.
In other news, the Internet group Anonymous leaked a set of Walmart PowerPoints for managers that included ways to discourage workers from joining a union and how to identify “early warning signs.”
The PowerPoints also detailed legal ways an employer could discourage workers from organizing:
“Walmart’s aggressive anti-worker campaign is real, it is ugly and unnecessary,” says Dominic Ware of Leandro, Calif. (OUR Walmart member and former associate). “Instead of spending money on these misleading and false campaigns to intimidate workers and their rights, Walmart should be focused on publicly committing to improving jobs, raising wages and making sure that workers are able to raise their concerns without fear of illegal retaliation.”
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: California, Corporate Accountability, Los Angeles, NLRB, Rights At Work, Walmart
Today, workers from Walmart stores across the country joined with allies to call upon the company with $17 billion in annual profits to pay its full-time workers a minimum of $25,000 a year and for the company to stop punishing workers who stand up for their rights. Rallies were held at more than 1,500 Walmart locations. Working families in nine major cities planned civil disobedience as part of the protests, and arrests were made in numerous cities, including Alexandria, Va., Dallas, Tex., California, and Illinois. Learn more about the action and why its important to stand with Walmart workers at BlackFridayProtests.org.
Text BLACK to 235246 to support the Walmart associates speaking up for their rights. Standard data and message rates may apply.
Below are Twitter highlights from the actions. The Walmart actions can be followed on Twitter at #WalmartStrikers.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: black friday, Jobs, minimum wage, Rights At Work, Walmart
Walmart associates all over the United States are taking big risks for speaking up about their work environment and going on strike. Many have been fired, and while it is illegal to fire workers for asking for a voice on the job, sometimes these lawsuits can take years.
That’s why Making Change at Walmart is taking steps to empower the Walmart associates who were fired by training them to become organizers so they can continue to fight for change for their former co-workers. From Making Change:
Instead of the problem going away for Walmart when they fire a worker, what if that worker could become an organizer? What if instead of being unemployed, they could use all of their work hours talking to their co-workers about the importance of changing Walmart?
You can stand in solidarity with these workers by donating to sponsor one of them today, so they can keep organizing for good jobs at Walmart.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: black friday, Rights At Work, Walmart
We have a lot to be thankful for this year, including (in no particular order):
- Union members who have volunteered their services to strengthen their communities (read more here).
- All the activists—including those in Congress—working for a road map to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.
- Connecticut and the four localities (Portland, Ore.; New York City; Jersey City, N.J.; and SeaTac, Wash.) that now require paid sick days.
- The five states and two localities that have raised the minimum wage this year (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Montgomery County, Md., [measure passed yesterday, county executive confirms he will sign into law], Prince George’s County, Md., [pending county executive signature] and SeaTac, Wash. [where there may be a recount]).
- The 10 states that have expanded access to the ballot (California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and West Virginia).
- The domestic workers, home care providers, carwasheros and taxi workers who have defied the odds to come together to win rights and a voice on the job.
- Walmart, fast food and retail workers who are standing together for living wages.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for “going nuclear” on the filibuster.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren…for being Sen. Elizabeth Warren (and, of course, for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she pushed to create).
- The U.S. senators who passed ENDA and the Supreme Court justices who overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats for their Economic Agenda for Women and Families (now let’s pass it!).
- Social Security, for keeping more than 22 million people a year out of poverty.
- The organizations and media outlets that have exposed dark money and state legislative attacks on workers flowing from ALEC and the Koch brothers.
- Companies that have signed the Bangladesh Fire Safety Accord (missing from the list are the big U.S. retailers like Walmart).
- Companies like Costco that buck the trends, pay a living wage and support workers’ rights.
- Building trades unions’ apprenticeship programs for preparing workers for solid, middle-class careers (read more here).
- Nurses and teachers, who fight every day for patient safety and great schools for all our kids.
- Manufacturing workers, who are creating reasons to bring jobs back to America.
- Writers and dancers, who are bringing justice on the job to their professions.
- Young workers and students, who are demanding a break from crushing student debt and an economy that will work for their generation.
- Collective bargaining agreements and all the benefits of being a union member.
- All the working people, unemployed workers and their families who are the reason for and center of our movement for social and economic justice.
Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW
Tags: aflcio, Elizabeth Warren, Harry Reid, Health Care, Jobs, minimum wage, organizing, Rights At Work, Walmart