A small group of activists staged a brief Black Friday protest at Walmart in Seekonk prior to being escorted off the property by local police. The protestors, who were taking part in a national program, demanded improved working conditions and higher salaries for Walmart workers. They unsuccessfully attempted to submit a letter to the store manager that was addressed to company Chair Rob Walton.
The text of the letter can be found below. What do you think of the letter? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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It used to be that in America, working hard and playing by the rules would let you earn a paycheck that could support a family and opportunities to advance and build a better life for your kids. But as you no doubt know, these days, hard-working people have to juggle their expenses just to stay afloat in cities and states across the country.
As the largest retailer and employer in our country, Walmart has considerable power to help rebuild our economy and restore the promise of the American Dream. We are calling on Walmart to change its business practices and open a dialogue with the workers who keep your stores running and move goods at your contracted warehouses to help create a stronger country and economy for all of us – beginning with changes that will improve the lives of workers and their families across the country.
As the nation’s largest employer, as well as the largest employer of African Americans, Latinos and women, no other corporation has as significant an impact as Walmart does on our communities. And that impact on families is not something to be proud of. Take OUR Walmart member Dan Hindman, for example, a young father who is living with his parents because his irregular work schedule, sometimes only 12-14 hours per week, keeps him from being able to support his son from finding other steady work. Making less than $10 an hour, much of Dan’s wages go to the pricey Walmart health care plan for himself and his son. Or, consider Limber Herrera, a warehouse worker who came to the U.S. in search of a better life. Although he’s held the same job for four years, Limber is still considered a “temp” worker and was demoted after standing with his co-workers for better working conditions like clean water, working equipment, fans in the 100 plus degree temperatures and an end to retaliation.
Dan and Limber are not alone. Walmart store Associates receive an average of just $8.81/hour, recently had their health benefits slashed and are struggling to get enough hours – even as the company continues to hire more new Associates. And, the mostly Latino and African American warehouse workers who move goods for Walmart in distribution hubs in Southern California and Elwood near Chicago, IL are employed through a complex hierarchy of contractors. As a result, they lift heavy boxes (up to 200 pounds), earn low pay, and face toxic chemicals, high temperatures, little ventilation and intense retaliation if they complain or report an accident.
As front line Walmart workers are facing these hardships, the company made almost $16 billion in profits, executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year, and six members of the Walton Family have more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
We cannot change the American economy without changing Walmart. That’s why we are standing up to support workers who are organizing in the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and Warehouse Workers United (WWU), and joining national community organizations made up of civil rights, faith, women’s, and neighborhood groups to call for immediate changes.
We call on you to immediately adopt our United Call to Change Walmart and Rebuild America:
Improve Workers’ Lives
Pay a minimum of $25,000/year and guarantee quality, affordable health coverage for all Walmart Associates and workers in the company’s U.S. distribution chain.
Sign on to a national community benefits agreement that ensures that as Walmart expands into new markets, it strengthens communities, protects the environment, and is a responsible employer that pays area standards and wages and benefits to the tradesmen that build their stores, and pays living wages to employees its retail stores and who work in the U.S. supply and distribution chain to move merchandize sold Walmart.
Guarantee Workers’ Rights Agree to a global labor agreement guaranteeing the fundamental human right of freedom of association for all of its associates, instruct suppliers to do the same, and recognize and negotiate with OUR Walmart.
Elevate Global Living Standards Establish a legally binding globally responsible contractor policy requiring contractors and subcontractors under the bidders to properly classify employees as employees and not Independent Contractors, also to treat said employees accordingly for the purposes of workers compensation insurance coverage, employment taxes, social security taxes, income tax withholding, and participate in a bona fide, and active apprentice training program approved, by the Division of Apprentice Training of the Department of labor and Industries. Additionally to provide living wages, worker safety protections, and respect basic human and labor rights, including freedom of association and freedom from racial and gender discrimination.
To rebuild and strengthen our economy, we believe Walmart must meet with OUR Walmart and the Warehouse Workers United, adopt our United Call to Change Walmart and Rebuild America, and mediate the reinstatement of unjustly fired workers. Doing so will not only improve the lives of millions of workers, but will help Walmart prosper, too, with greater customer service, higher morale and lower turnover.
We ask that you act immediately and take the opportunity to meet with OUR Walmart members and Warehouse Workers and hear firsthand from these hardworking, dedicated Walmart employees—who like you want to make the customer happy, but also the workers in your stores and supply chain.