OURWalmart

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OURWalmart

OURWalmart SF

Gordon Mar June 29, 2013.

Gordon Mar

OURWalmart, community and labor allies meeting now, preparing for action today at 12pm at 757 Market Street, Walmart director Marissa Mayer's penthouse apt and Gap at Market and Powell demanding WMT & Gap sign Bangladesh sweatshops fire safety accord. — with Maria Guillen, Jenya Cassidy, Blesilda Ocampo, Annelisa Luong, Feng Kung, Kasi Farrar, Mabel Tsang, Lotus Yee Fong, Brooke Anderson, Dan Harper, Kathe Burick, Pilar Schiavo, La Colectiva de Mujeres and Shanell Williams at Unite Here! Local 2.

Sued by Walmart

In July, 2013 Walmart, sued Communist Party USA member and retired Texas union activist Gene Lantz, the United Food and Commercial Workers, OURWalmart, and Jobs with Justice for civil trespassing for crossing their parking lots.

Gene Lantz has been making videos of public officials supporting Walmart workers and posting on them YouTube. He believes this may be a key tactic in the long strategy to hold Walmart accountable.[1]

Wal-Mart wants the groups to be permanently restrained from trespassing on Wal-Mart property in Texas for unlawful activities. Since March, five similar lawsuits have been filed by Wal-Mart in other states. [2]

Black Friday protests, 2013

Walmart workers, the nation's labor leaders, and community leaders from all across the country called a press conference Nov. 19, 2013, where they announced plans to turn the busiest holiday shopping day of the year into one of the largest mobilizations of workers in U.S. history.

Organizations representing tens of millions are throwing their support behind underpaid and abused Walmart workers who are planning strikes, walkouts and demonstrations at Walmart stores from coast to coast on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the holiday season.
Amid spontaneous strikes and protests already breaking out at Walmarts in many cities, the labor and community leaders declared here yesterday their intention to pull off one of the largest mobilizations of U.S. working families ever when the Walmart workers walk out next week.

"Count on the full support of the millions of working people who belong to our unions," declared Richard Trumka, president of the 13 million member AFL-CIO at the press conference.

"The scale of support and nationwide activity being planned for Black Friday is unlike anything we've seen in recent history. Black Friday is destined to become a Labor Day, not of picnics but of action for workers," said Peter Dreier, Distinguished Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. Dreier joined the assembly of labor, community, civil rights, on-line organizing and other leaders at the press conference.

"As income inequality climbs to historic levels and families are increasingly pushed to the margins, working families are coming together to demand better," said Dreier. "This year," he predicted, "the day after Thanksgiving will be remembered not as the busiest shopping day of the year but as the day Americans took action to demand that the country's largest employer pay workers a livable wage and play a part in improving our economy."

"The fight for better pay, full time work and an end to illegal retaliation against workers who fight for a better life isn't just a Walmart workers issue," said Trumka.

"It's a family issue, it's a women's issue, it's an immigrant rights issue, a student issue, an environmental protection issue and it's a consumer issue - above all it's an issue of fairness. The 13 million members of the AFL-CIO stand in lockstep with the Walmart workers."

Tiffany Beroid, a Walmart worker active with the non-union group of Walmart associates who call themselves OUR Walmart, interrupted in the middle of the press conference to announce breaking news that the NLRB was prosecuting Walmart for illegal firings of workers who went out on strike last June.

"This is such good news," she said. It is great to know that we actually have the government of this country behind us."

The decision to prosecute Walmart was made by Richard F. Griffin, Jr., only recently confirmed by the Senate as President Obama's nominee to the position of General Counsel of the NLRB.

MoveOn.org, a huge national online organization that supports an array of progressive causes, has thrown its full support to the Black Friday organizing drive.

"Our 8 million members stand in solidarity with Walmart workers for a very simple reason: hardworking people deserve to be able to get by," said Anna Gallana, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action. "Our members will be out in force on Black Friday exposing Walmart's poverty wages, dangerous working conditions and illegal retaliation."[3]

In a Nov. 22, 2013 press conference, members of OURWalmart announced that workers throughout the U.S. are planning strikes, walkouts, and demonstrations at 1,500 Walmart locations - up from 1,200 in 2012.

The actions will be "one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history," organizers said. Protesters will call for Walmart to raise its labor standards, including increasing wages and ceasing to threaten its employees with disciplinary measures when they attempt to organize.

Conference moderator Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart worker from Colorado, noted that more than half of the big-box giant's hourly employees make less than $25,000 per year. She remarked, "Why do we, workers at the world's largest company, have to band together just to afford Thanksgiving dinner? Yes, Walmart 'associates' stick together and look out for each other. We have to, because Walmart and the Waltons seem to be fine with the financial struggles we're all facing."

As noted in a follow-up press release, "Walmart makes more than $17 billion in profits, with the wealth of the Walton family totaling over $144.7 billion - equal to that of 42 percent of Americans."

Amy Traub, a senior policy analyst and OURWalmart member, pointed out that there's simply no excuse for that sharp inequality. There are clearly measures the corporation could take to treat its workers more fairly. For example, she said, "We looked at the billions that Walmart spends annually on unproductive investments on Wall Street. If it diverted these funds, it could raise workers' wages. Walmart also spends money on share buybacks, which don't always even benefit investors in the long term. This, too, could be going to workers."

She noted, however, "Walmart's current business model is certainly benefiting the heirs to the Walton fortune. But unfortunately, that's not the case for workers, or for taxpayers who end up subsidizing Walmart's payroll."

Dorian Warren, an associate professor at Columbia University who spoke at the news conference, added, "We think of Walmart as the embodiment of what's wrong with the American economy. For the typical worker, it represents the death of the American dream and the decline of social mobility. But OURWalmart members are trying to revive the dream. Working families are fighting back like never before, and they have the support of America behind them."

The demonstrations will be another step in the battle against Walmart's anti-worker practices, coming right behind a recent victory for workers, when the National Labor Relations Board decided to charge and fine Walmart for illegal retaliations against its employees who spoke out for better jobs.

Warren continued, "Black Friday 2013 will mark a turning point in American history. 1,500 protests against Walmart is unprecedented."

"Walmart is just a bully," declared Dallas worker Qulima Knacp. "And the only way to fight back against a bully is to speak up. People across the country are starting to see the real Walmart, and that's why I continue to stand up, because the time for change is now."[4]

References