Walmart workers are planning their largest mobilization since Black Friday for Sept. 5. The announcement was made on Sept. 4, after the retailer failed to meet a Labor Day deadline to reinstate workers it fired and disciplined because they sought fair wages and other workplace improvements.
Since June, Walmart has disciplined nearly 80 workers, including firing 20 worker-leaders. Now more than 100 unfair labor practice charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Walmart.
Walmart maintains that it does not punish workers for protests.
For Sept. 5, demonstrations coordinated by Organization United for Respect at Walmart are being planed in dozens of U.S. cities.
“Walmart, we cannot wait any longer for you to do the right thing for American workers,” said Cindy Murray, a 13-year employee who was arrested for protesting at the company’s Washington, D.C. offices. “Our jobs should not be at risk when we speak out about improvements that would help our families and Walmart customers.”
Murray added, “Walmart employees like me are not making enough to support our families even though we work at the country’s largest company.”
Protests are expected in: Baton Rouge, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Orlando, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. As of mid-day on Sept. 4, Milwaukee was not among the protest cities.
Walmart, the largest company on the Fortune 500 list, made $16 billion in profits in 2012, and six members of the Walton family have a total wealth of $93 billion – more than the bottom 30 percent of Americans combined.
But Walmart workers, those outside the management system, earn on average $8.81 an hour, according to protest organizers. And a congressional report released earlier this year said Walmart’s low wages mean many in its employ rely on public assistance, including food stamps, subsidized health care and other support. Taxpayer support for just one of Walmart’s 4,000 stores in the U.S. is estimated at about $900,000, according to protest organizers.
“As the nation’s largest employer, Walmart and the Walton family should be raising standards, not lowering them. To whom much is given, much is expected,” said Kim Bobo of Interfaith Worker Justice. “Walmart should share its prosperity with workers and publicly commit to paying workers $25,000 a year for full-time work. If Walmart workers earned living wages the entire economy would benefit.”
Walmart recently announced that it was extending domestic partner benefits to its employees in the United States. However, the company had previously slashed its limited health benefits and less than half its U.S. employees are eligible for coverage.