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DAYTON, OH – Striking Walmart workers and community supporters rallied today outside of a Dayton area store. Workers say that with $17 billion in annual profits, the mega-retailer can and should do more to improve jobs, and in turn, the economy. As associates have spoken about the injustice of living in poverty despite working for the world’s richest company, Walmart has responded by illegally disciplining and even firing employees.
Faith leaders and elected officials, including State Representative Fred Strahorn and City Commissioner Matt Joseph, joined with workers today in calling on Walmart to:
- end illegal retaliation;
- pay associates a minimum of $25,000/year;
- offer more full-time work.
Ricki Hahn has worked at the same Dayton Walmart store since it opened 7 ½ years ago. “I used to work in the grocery department, but I asked to be transferred because it was so hard working around all this food that I couldn’t afford myself,” Hahn said. “At the end of the day I would be counting out my change to see if I could maybe get some pasta or something.”
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 Walmart must end to improve jobs, strengthen the economy, and stop forcing the burden of poverty wage jobs on to taxpayers.
The strikers are members of the growing national organization OUR Walmart. OUR Walmart, or Organization United for Respect at Walmart, formed just two years ago, when 100 Walmart 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, Walmart 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 Walmart’s charge that Walmart committed 11 violations of national labor law.
Because they want to keep denying American workers the wages and hours they need, Walmart 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 Walmart’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
Walmart, 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 assistance including 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.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Walmart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Walmart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Walmart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.