Contact: Laurie Couch, (847) 420-5108, firstname.lastname@example.org
EVENDALE, OH—Just two weeks ago a Walmart associate was fired from the Evendale Supercenter after talking to a reporter about working conditions at the store. Today, a group of Walmart workers and community supporters delivered thousands of signed postcard petitions to local Walmart management. Cincinnati-area Walmart workers and community members collected more than 5,000 postcards from supporters in Ohio and Northern Kentucky calling on the company to treat workers with respect, pay a living wage, and end the practice of retaliating against associates who speak up.
A group of workers and faith leaders, including Reverend Nelson Pierce, Pastor at Beloved Community Church, presented shopping carts full of signed postcards to management at the Evendale Supercenter. Willio Lacomme, a Walmart employee with no disciplinary record and a father of two, was fired from this store just six days after speaking with a reporter from the Guardian about his working conditions.
It appears that Willio was fired as an act of retaliation for speaking up. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t be the first; since June, Walmart has illegally disciplined and/or fired nearly 80 workers for participating in protests, organizing their coworkers, and talking to the press.
“I know why I was fired. It’s because I talked to the press and my coworkers about how we deserve better than poverty wages and disrespect,” says Willio Lacomme. “They fired me because they want us to be afraid. But we’re not afraid and we’re not going away.”
Walmart is the largest private employer in the world. The average Walmart associate makes $8.81/hr, which, even at full-time, is well below the poverty level for a family. Meanwhile, the six members of the Walton family—heirs to the Walmart fortune and near majority owners of the company—have a combined wealth of $93 billion. That’s more than the bottom 42% of Americans combined.
Along with the postcards, protestors delivered a letter from State Representative Denise Driehaus. In her statement, Driehaus says, “I’m not opposed to anyone making a profit; but as a representative of the people of Ohio, I believe that profits should not come at the expense of good jobs and healthy communities in our state. Ohioans make millions for Walmart every year. In return, we expect Walmart to pay those workers fair wages and to respect their rights.”
After delivering the postcards, protestors entered the store and purchased items to donate to the Cincinnati Women’s Crisis Center.