Making Change at Walmart
MEDIA CALL: Friday, November 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT
CALL-IN NUMBER: 404-920-6442 Conference Code: 798763#
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Dawn Le: 202-549-6798 Lynsey Kryzwick: 646-200-5311
Video of Walmart workers on why they’re speaking out: http://bit.ly/U3ZfDB
Follow on Twitter: #WalmartStrikers and @ForRespect and @ChangeWalmart
Watch live stream: http://Qik.com/OURWalmart
Photos available: http://www.flickr.com/slideShow/index.gne?group_id=2085138@N25 and http://changewalmart.tumblr.com/
Walmart workers in Miami, Dallas, Wisconsin and the Bay Area kicked off this year's Black Friday shopping season by walking off the job on Thursday, and this morning, workers from Chicago and Washington, DC have joined them. Throughout the day, Walmart workers in more than 100 cities are expected to go on strike as part of the continued wave of 1,000 protests in 46 states leading up to and on Black Friday, including strikes, rallies, flash mobs, direct action and other efforts to inform customers about the illegal actions that Walmart has been taking against its workers.
The workers, who are members of the organization OUR Walmart, are on strike in protest against the company’s attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs. Workers in California, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Minnesota and across the country are among those expected to strike throughout the day.
“Walmart has spent the last 50 years pushing its way on workers and communities,” said Mary Pat Tifft, an OUR Walmart member and 24-year associate who led a protest on Thursday evening in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “In just one year, leaders of OUR Walmart and Warehouse Workers United have begun to prove that change is coming to the world’s largest employer.”
“Our voices are being heard,” said Colby Harris, OUR Walmart member and 3-year associate who walked off the job in Lancaster, Texas Thursday evening. “And thousands of people in our cities and towns and all across the country are joining our calls for change at Walmart. We are overwhelmed by the support and proud of what we’ve achieved so quickly and about where we are headed.”
Hear from striking workers and community leaders calling for an end to Walmart's retaliation on a media call at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT:
|Media Call on Black Friday Protests and Strikes|
|Striking Walmart workers from stores across the country, community supporters|
|Friday, November 23 at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 PT|
|404-920-6442 Conference Code: 798763#|
Countless civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights and religious groups, including Color of Change, National Alliance of Latino, African and Caribbean Communities, Interfaith Worker Justice and the National Organization of Women, are supporting the workers. Online support has been overwhelming with workers joining OUR Walmart and committing to strike through engagement in Facebook communities; and tens of thousands of supporters downloading information to hold their own protests calling for changes at the company.
The Black Friday strike wave comes a little more than a month after OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. Since then, support for OUR Walmart, the associate organization calling for change, has continued to grow. In just one year, OUR Walmart has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates across 43 states.
Workers’ concerns about wages and staffing have been affirmed by newly uncovered company pay-plans exposed by the Huffington Post, recent poor sales reports and a new study on wage trends in the retail industry. Huffington Post uncovered what reporters call “a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.” Meanwhile, last week’s sales reports show that understaffing, which affects workers’ scheduling and take-home pay, is also having an impact on company sales. Last week’s sales report showed that Walmart's comp store sales are about half what competitors like Target reported in the same quarter, continuing a pattern of underperformance by the world’s largest retailer.
As workers and community supporters call for changes at Walmart, a new report by the national public policy center Demos, shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would have an impact on our economy. A wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs. The findings in the study prove there is a flaw in the conventional thinking by companies like Walmart that profits, low prices, and decent wages cannot coexist.
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and its discrimination against women and people of color, but rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence these workers who speak out. Some workers have also been speaking out about the early start of Black Friday sales – on Thanksgiving Day –which kept many retail workers from being able to spend the holiday with their families.
With so many Americans struggling to make ends meet and Walmart taking in $16 billion in profits and compensating its executives $10 million each, workers and community leaders have been calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address the wage gap the company is creating. At the same time frontline Walmart workers are facing financial hardships, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.
Dawn Le: 202-549-6798
Lynsey Kryzwick: 646-200-5311