On November 18, striking Walmart workers and community supporters rallied outside Cincinnati and Dayton area Walmart stores. Workers say that with more than $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.
“We speak up about what it’s like to work at Walmart, and we get punished. They try to silence us, but today we intend to be heard,” said Walmart associate Jamaad Reed at the Cincinnati strike. “I know that I could be punished or fired for speaking out today, but at this point, we have very little to lose and a lot to gain. We already work hard for next to nothing. We’re barely getting by.”
Without the protection of a union, Walmart associates across the country endure rampant disrespect and harassment; illegal retaliation for speaking out; and sub-poverty wages—and Ohio is no exception. Walmart workers in Ohio have been punished and even fired after participating in peaceful protests. And many more—including Scott Stringer of Dayton, Ohio—can attest to feeling disrespected by the company.
“I’ve been called a dog and a cancer and had boxes thrown at me,” Stringer read aloud at the Dayton strike. “I believe in a better Walmart where associates can speak without retaliation.” Stringer read his statement to his managers—including the man who called him a “dog” and a “cancer”—while surrounded by his coworkers and nearly 80 community supporters.
Faith leaders and elected officials joined with workers in calling on Walmart to end illegal retaliation, pay associates a living wage, and offer more full-time work. And of course, Local 75 members came out in force to stand in solidarity with Walmart workers and their families.