Walmart Walkout Widens to 12 States, Black Friday Walkout Threatened

by on October 11, 2012 · 32 comments

in Labor, Organizing, Popular, San Diego

San Diego Labor Leader Lorena Gonzalez Banned from all Walmarts

Editor: The following is a compilation from Doug Porter’s two most recent Starting Line columns at the San Diego Free Press about Walmart and Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego’s labor leader.

Walkouts at the worlds’ larger retailer spread to at least twenty eight stores in twelve states yesterday, with unprecedented protests against company treatment of employees and working conditions expected to continue today at the annual Walmart investor meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Making Change At Walmart campaign, said job actions took place in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C., area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando. There were also reports of walkouts in Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota.

The New York Times has posted an article saying that disgruntled Walmart employees, joined by labor unions and community groups, might stage a combined protest and educational campaign the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. The workers are protesting company attempts to “silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job,” according to a United Food and Commercial Workers news release. Walmart workers, who are not unionized, have long complained of low pay and a lack of benefits.

Studies have shown that Walmart workers are more likely than others in the industry to rely on government benefits. In California, for instance, where the strike started, employees’ families use 40 percent more publicly funded healthcare and 38 percent more public assistance programs than the average employee at a large retail company.

In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Over eleven thousand people have signed up on their Facebook page, although there is no way of knowing how many of those are actually company employees.

They are facing off against a company with a long history of actively resisting union efforts. The stock in Walmart is controlled by the six heirs of to founder Sam Walton, who are worth $89.5 billion, or as much as the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined.

Lorena Gonzalez Banned From Walmarts

Photo from Lorena Gonzalez Twitter Feed

Skirmishes between Walmart and labor groups continued yesterday, as 200 angry protesters showed up at a meeting of investors and analysts earlier today at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Here in San Diego local AFL/CIO leader Lorena Gonzalez paid her first visit ever to a Walmart, visiting the College Grove store with a letter for the store manager asking the retailer to improve employee pay and benefits, and require store contractors to pay a living wage.

The store manager refused to even shake hands with Gonzalez, keeping hands in his pockets as she asked him to accept the letter.

He responded with a notice banning Gonzalez from ever setting foot in any Walmart store, and called the police. She later tweeted “PD let me leave letter Told me if I come back Walmart threatens civilian arrest… Then asked me if I wanted to go get a taco”.

Gonzalez’s visit to Walmart was part of a national day of action against the corporation, which has traditionally resisted efforts by its U.S. employees to unionize. Similar actions were taken in Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington and Georgia, among other states.

Gonzales told PBS the actions were being taken is to give workers a voice against one of the largest corporations in the world.

Photo from Lorena Gonzalez Twitter feed

“While traditional unionizing efforts have been tough, this is another way for workers to come together and collectively demand changes at their workplace,” she said.

A Walmart spokesman disputed allegations of mistreatment of workers in an interview with ABC News, claiming that most employees have “repeatedly rejected unionization.

“They seem to recognize that Walmart has some of the best jobs in the retail industry — good pay, affordable benefits and the chance for advancement,” he said.

Activists have called the Arkansas based retailer “the ultimate welfare queen” saying that company policies increase employee reliance on government assistance. They say the company deliberately schedules employees to keep their hours below the threshold required for company benefits eligibility.

Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps.

Walmart’s employees rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store. In state after state, store employees are the top recipients of Medicaid.

Walmart workers’ reliance on public assistance due to substandard wages and benefits has become a form of indirect public subsidy to the company. In effect, Walmart is shifting part of its labor costs onto the public.

 

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar imominous October 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm

“Walmart has become the number one driver behind the growing use of food stamps in the United States with as many as 80 percent of workers in Wal-Mart stores using food stamps.”

Hey…workers eat food. Walmart sells food! Why shouldn’t the Walmart clan get richer at the expense of American taxpayers? If that greedy family gave up one nickel per dollar they rake in and put it back into worker pay and benefits, there’d be no complaints about worker mistreatment and exploitation.

One nickel per dollar says a lot about those people, doesn’t it.

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avatar Sam Walmart Logistics December 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

I was once a store associate. Those people who have food stamps also have nice phones, internet or cable, and other things. Anybody would like to have everything given to them. I don’t need government help. This is not africa, we are spoiled and greedy and dont want to work for things. I advanced in walmart skills, and help make this country a better place. I work harder and make more money to distribute that food the farmer worked his life away on.

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avatar mailman December 15, 2012 at 10:42 pm

Well sam its nice that you think about other people and the associates that work at the walmart stores and yes even the military use food stamps or SNAP asa they have a low wage for defending the USA and they dont have a union and they dont strick and now at a lot of the walmarts there are no greeters at the door and no one yells if the alarm goes off and most of the store people just do the work for the wage they receive and thats it saw a guy come in with a dog in his cart and noone said anything to him he bought beer and left nobody cares at the walmarts anymore 8hours work for 8hours pay so bypass everthing else its going to get worse as the walmart slogan is who cares if you quit there are a million people ready to take your place so hire just anybody off the street ,there youed to be customer care but nobody cares try to stop an associate to ask a question and they scatter and dont mention the word union they go deaf and cover ther nametags ,and its funny to see the associates sing that stupid song

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avatar Derek October 11, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I hope the Black Friday walkout really occurs… that would hit them where it hurts the most.

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avatar KIm October 12, 2012 at 7:44 am

everyone will go shopping on the day before or the day after, people need walmart especially during christmas. as other stores run out of stuff even the employees will shop at walmart.

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avatar Heath November 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

You misunderstand the meaning of the word NEED. You NEED to breath. You NEED to eat. You DO NOT ‘NEED’ to buy a bunch of made in china junk toys for your kids at Christmas. Wanna give everyone on your christmas list a great present this year? Don’t buy any christmas presents at walmart. Give them the gift of working for a decient wage.

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avatar Sam Walmart Logistics December 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thats why we work their to serve the customer.

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avatar Bill Ray Drums October 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

Banned from Wal-Mart a bad thing? I would consider it a personal achievement!

Proud to have not spent a cent in their stores for nearly a decade.

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avatar John November 10, 2012 at 12:59 am

LOL. You paid more.

(I understand and share consternation at big box store corporations. still the fact remains most of these companies thrived because they were doing things right.)

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avatar Barb October 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Walkout! Perfect! Push the union~then watch Walmart prices, SOAR!!!
If y’all didn’t like the wages when you signed up to work for them, then, you shouldn’t have gone to work for them!
Were you promised benefits, etc. as part-timers, if not, don’t gripe!
I used to work for Sam’s Club and I was totally screwed over by them. I filed workmens’ comp., as I injured my back~the judge for the workers comp. board in Denton, TX, didn’t help as he took the “hearsay” testimony from an asst. mgr., someone who wasn’t even in the room during the meeting between myself and the store mgr., however, you will find out the same thing I did, you ARE replaceable~go ahead! Walkout…but, just remember, YOU are ABANDONING your job…and right now, with the unemployment rate what it is…there will be someone else ready & willing to take it, at least thru the holidays~hopefully, you will be denied unemployment, too, as you quit/walked out~

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avatar eff walmart October 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm

So Barb, just because the prices will soar, is that supposed to mean they shouldn’t speak out? How stupid! Who gives a crap if the prices soar, then don’t shop there! Its not about wether they were hired part time or not.. its the principle! Yes they knew the type of job they were applying for but we don’t know the situation the person was in when they excepted it! Maybe they were in need and took what they could find at the time. Imagine that being you and once you start working there you start to realize what a horrible place walmart is to work. Would you fight or just quit and lose your lively-hood? It sounds like the situation you were in at samsclub was your own fault since you obviously did nothing to fight for yourself! I mean if you got screwed maybe you hired a lame lawyer! So maybe you need to hang out a little with some of these walmart workers that are actually fighting to change the idiotic rules of the most pathetic retailer in america! Also, for you to hope that someone is denied unemployment for standing up for their rights says that you are a piece of shit and sorry excuse for a person! Hopefully someone slaps the shit out of ur ugly face! With that being said, I hope that walmart loses out big.. I hope walmart gets fucked up the ass this black friday! I WILL not be nor will my family shop there this christmas or ever! All you walmart workers seek other jobs in the meantime its just going to get worse. There are jobs out there if you look really hard.. don’t settle for walmart! Its a dead end job

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avatar Strider October 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Madam, I percieve that you are a bitter, mean, and resentful person, and think because you got the shaft, everyone should. I wish you a more peaceful soul.

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avatar Ron October 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm

So walmart should be able to treat their employees like dogs? I know quite a few walmart employees and they all say the same thing. Retailers like walmart raise the cost when they need more millions anyway. Unions dont force the cost of living up. Corperate greed runs the cost of living up.

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avatar Derek October 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

Exactly Barb! You worked for WalMart subsidiary Sam’s Club and they screwed you over because you had no union representation… Yet you say f@#* the current employees that want to better their working conditions by joining a union!? Wow, what compassion and understanding… and you’re worried about paying more for a pair of socks while people are being taken advantage of! The selfishness and hypocrisy in this world is unbelievable!

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avatar James November 16, 2012 at 10:59 am

Barb,

I really don’t mean to be rude, and I think I speak for everyone here that is reading these comments when I say, “Go F*** Yourself!”

After your little sob story, you should be on the side of the workers… especially because… ding ding ding… Sam’s Club IS Walmart. Plus, everyone deserves fair treatment. I was lucky enough to be able to leave retail work. Some people can’t.

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avatar unWASHEdWalmaRtthONG October 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Someone, somewhere, somehow has got to take a stand against this behemoth. Walmart is a giant leach.
Gosh, I hope the prices don’t go up!
I’ve spent $8.85 total in that purgatorious chasm.
I want my money back.

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avatar Denny October 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm

The Walton family is making billions. With all those profits they should be paying workers a living wage and providing excellent benefits. Many employees are on Medicaid which is costing all of us. Consumers should be willing to give those workers some support, like a boycott.

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avatar fatimah October 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I work for walmart and many people there were hired for full time and as time goes on they cut your hours for 13 weeks till they can drop your status to part time and you loose your benefits. Also they make workers work full time hours for mabey 10 weeks then drop them down to part time for a few weeks before they would make full time status and get medical and dental….I dont like alot of things about my store but I do like my job decorating cakes and I like my peticular store. With that said I dont like working with almost no employees to get the jobs done and with the cuts in hours lately. Also no bonuses although management gets theirs and the corporation still throws big bash for the share holders meetings and such….AAlso many things broken in our store and they will not fix them……OK enough venting….I am grateful to have a job, I was hired at a decent rate of pay because i cover deli also… and I dont know if id risk walking off the job……..but my heart would want to hit them where it hurt to change things…

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avatar theresa mason October 14, 2012 at 4:56 am

Banned from Walmart!boo-hoo!

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avatar Mike October 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

Romney’s stance is that unions are no longer needed in this country. Well, walmart is going to be the type of jobs Romney has planed for americans. I hope Wall mart unionizes and Romney losses this election on his stance against unions!!!!

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avatar JEFF November 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

@Mike;
Well said bro.
First thing Romney wanted to do(according to ABC Convention) was to do away with collective bargaining & Davis Bacon Act.
Great huh!

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avatar Unhappy Camper October 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm

I have worked for Walmart over 15 years. I make excellent money. I have benefits and a decent retirement fund. That being said, there is no way a person starting at Walmart today, or in the last several years, can get where I am.
As soon as Mr Sam died, they started whittling away the things he did for his ‘associates’ to make his company a great place to work. When I started they had just done away with the “time-and-a-half on Sunday policy”. I get an extra dollar per hour, but they recently did away with that. Now there is no Sunday premium for new associates++.
They did away with the ” 28 hours a week and you’re full-time” policy. I’m grandfathered in on that one but, if I leave my position, I lose that and have to work 35 hours a week to be full time and considering there are NO full time jobs to be had, I’d lose out if I stepped down or moved. I’m stuck unless I want to sell my soul and become salaried.
They have taken away the “90 day raise’. You still get evaluated but, no raise.
In the day, I could get a merit raise for doing a good job, and did several times. You guessed it, they did away with merit raises.
They have capped wages so that if you are happy in your position, as I am, you hit a ceiling and will never get a raise again without being promoted.
I used to have 2 retirement accounts, technically I still do, but my profit-sharing account is just sitting there. They quit contributing a small percentage of the company profits to help me in my golden years.
And, because I make a decent wage, I have a target on my back. They could hire 2 or 3 part-timers for what they pay me and wouldn’t have to pay benefits for 2 years (if they last that long).
Yep, I have gone from someone who was proud to work at Walmart, to someone who is convinced I work for the devil.
By the way, we are already talking about a walk-out at my store, hehehe. And, It ain’t the newbies who are considering it. All of us are 10 years or longer, we who know how far we’ve fallen.

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avatar Rose December 29, 2012 at 9:19 am

You absolutely nailed the Wal-Mart experience. Sad, isn’t it?

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avatar Mike Mannon October 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Unionize vote Obama!!! don’t let Romney make this a standard labor pratice by him promising jobs. I think you know more than anyone what kind of jobs he wants for us in the labor market!!!

You Have my support!
Mike Mannon

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avatar JC October 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm

As a Walmart employee, I think the black Friday walk out is an outstanding idea. Too bad most everyone in my store is too afraid of loosing their crappy job to do it! Let me see what I can do to convince them!

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avatar James November 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

I commented earlier to the lovely Barb’s statement. But I just want to chime in and say… I am 100% behind a Walmart Black Friday Walkout! Kick Walmart in the pants when it hurts the most. It doesn’t matter if they make up their money on Thankgiving or the following Saturday. Showing an amazing lack of sales on Black Friday… the biggest shopping day of the year… will send a message to them.

Personally, I think to help these workers out, we should refuse to shop there on Black Friday. Go any other day, but stay away on the day after Thanksgiving.

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avatar Larry November 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Choices, Actions ,Consequences.

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avatar ladymavsfan November 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I am a former associate and I was treated very bad by Wal-Mart. I was hired as part-time but I was forced to constantly work full-time hours. When my Mother worked for Wal-Mart Sam Walton was still alive and things were alot different. Sam believed that customer service was the number one focus, but when I worked there the bottom line was the number one focus as it is right now. I hope the stores have to close on Black Friday. They need a swift kick in the backside so maybe they will hopefully go back to the way Sam did things.

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avatar HARVEY November 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I stand in solidarity with the workers of WALMART who want fair wages and benefits.I WILL NOT SHOP AT WALMART ON BLACK FRIDAY OR SATURDAY, NOR EITHER OTHER TIME WHEN THERE IS A MOVEMENT OF THIS KIND AGAINST WALMART OR ANY OTHER CORPORATION.

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avatar bob November 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I do love the little minds here, Oh yes they should unionize, I mean that has done wonders for Detroit, the steel industry, most manufacturing jobs in the US over the last 4 decades, oh and it worked out for almost 17,000 people at Hostess this week didn’t it.

Listen nobody is forced to work for Walmart, nobody is forced to shop their, and Walmart has no obligation to run their business how you see fit. If you don’t like it don’t work there, don’t shop there, but please stop trying to tell others how to run their lives and businesses. Everytime there has been a vote by Walmart employees they have rejected the unions, there is a reason for that, the unions would just add another hand reaching in their pockets to take their money. Unions are corrupt and care only about their political influence and not the good of the people they take money from. If you want to see what unions are all about look no further than the NEA and how they have ruined our education system, they don’t care about the students or teachers, they only care about protecting their political influence and their own paychecks.

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avatar Derek November 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Uh Bob, WAKE UP!!!

Hostess went under due to mismanagement. They have had several CEOs in the last several years that have all taken obscene pay and bonuses while driving the company under ala “Bain Style”… Unions are not corrupt, sometimes elected Union Officials turn out to be… the Union is the sum of it’s members not the elected official that is given the power that sometimes is too much for them to handle. Every worker in the retail industry is better off in facilities that are represented by Unions and have collective bargaining contracts with the sole exception of Costco which is paying better wages and benefits than anyone else in the industry, so much so that other corporate leaders have decried their business style even though they are the second largest retailer in the United States and have the best paid employees in the USA retail industry.

You should crawl out from under your Wall Street Journal and see the world a little clearer…

Peace!

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avatar mailman November 19, 2012 at 9:15 pm

BOB unions are for real and they should be accepted by everyone that would perfer them they dont take your money if you have a union they ask if you would like to join then you pay the dues if you dont then you stay in your job and the union will still fight for your rights WALMART and you get your beefits but walmart wont let you talk to anyone about unions or they are fired they are scared to vote or speak about unions and the people that do are not wanted in walmart again .You must have seen to many corrupt unions thats why you distrust them I<M in one and love it I make a great wage and have great hours and I choose my medical benefits plans and love working there .I say good luck to the walmart walkout on black friday and hope they get a change buts its hard to pry the dollars from the WALTONS .

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