WASHINGTON DC – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) workers walked off the job at three Washington DC area stores today, calling on Walmart to end its illegal retaliation against workers calling for better wages and full-time work. Many earning less than $25,000 a year at the country’s largest employer, these workers are risking their livelihoods by striking against an employer that aggressively, and illegally, fires and disciplines workers for speaking out for better jobs.
Pointing to the $17 billion in annual profits and the $144.7 billion wealth of the Walton family, the group said Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) can and should do more to improve jobs, and in turn, the economy.
Striking workers like Tiffany Beroid and Cynthia Murray have been emboldened by the recent disclosure from Walmart US CEO Bill Simon that as many as 825,000 Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year.
“I’m speaking out today because Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) can afford to do better by its workers,” said Tiffany Beroid. “We want to work full time, and earn above the poverty level. And we are taking action today because Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) needs to publicly commit to ending illegal retaliation against workers and better wages.” Beroid who is 29 has worked at the Laurel, Maryland Walmart for two years and earns less than $25,000 a year. She is a wife and mother and says her Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) salary has made it necessary to depend on food stamps in the past.
“Associates around the country have been retaliated against and fired for speaking out about how it is to work at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT),” said Cynthia Murray. “Associates shouldn’t have to fear for our jobs when we are simply asking to be treated with respect, for talking about it. We won’t back down until the company commits to end all retaliation against workers who speak out, and pay all associates a minimum of $25,000 for full-time work.” Murry has worked at the same Laurel, Maryland store for 13 years.
The group’s call for better jobs includes:
· an end to illegal retaliation;
· a minimum of $25,000/year;
· more full-time work.
Since 30,000 workers and supporters participated in strikes and protests on Black Friday 2012, calls for change at the country’s largest retailer and employer have been intensifying, putting Walmart on the defensive. Citing low wages, manipulative scheduling, understaffing and unsafe working conditions, members of Congress, economic and policy experts, shareholders and financial analysts are pointing to practices that Wal-Mart must end to improve jobs, strengthen the economy—and the company’s bottom line.
The strikers are members of the growing national organization OUR Walmart. OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), formed just two years ago, when 100 Wal-Mart associates came together to voice their concerns about the company retaliating against those who speak out for better working conditions.
Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers increasing
Since June, Wal-Mart has illegally disciplined over 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders who were exercising their civil rights. More than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against Walmart. Workers in California recently announced that after an investigation, the NLRB regional office announced it found merit to OUR Wal-Mart’s charge that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) committed 11 violations of national labor law.
Because they want to keep denying American workers the wages and hours they need, Wal-Mart is trying to silence workers who are standing up with their co-workers to live better and spending its time and money trying to deny workers a decent day’s pay. But ongoing labor mismanagement concerns, including Wal-Mart’s inaction on ending illegal retaliation, improving jobs at stores and putting meaningful protections in place at its suppliers, have contributed to record-levels of votes against Walmart’s board of directors and even shareholder divestment this year.
Walmart workforce reliance on public assistance costs taxpayers $900,000—at one store alone
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), the largest company on the Fortune 500 list, has $17 billion in profits a year, and the Waltons—the majority shareholders of the company—have the combined wealth of 42% of American families. Meanwhile, workers are making low wages and not getting enough hours, forcing many to rely on public programs to support their families even though they work for the country’s largest private employer.
A Congressional report released earlier this year calculates the Walmart workforce reliance on public assistanceincluding food stamps, healthcare and other needs is estimated to utilize $900,000 per year of taxpayer funds at just one of the company’s 4,000 stores.
$25,000 a year would mean 1.5 million move out of poverty, create 100,000 new jobs
A report from the national public policy center Demos shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would even help the store’s bottom line, as well as have an impact on individual families and the larger 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 mean 1.5 million retail workers and their families move out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create more than 100,000 new jobs.