April 23, 2009
Washington, DC – Walmart Workers for Change, a new campaign of thousands of Walmart’s 1.3 million associates across the country who are standing up and demanding a voice in the workplace, today released a new video that highlights the sorts of anti-worker tactics they are facing from the world’s largest retailer.
“The associates are afraid,” said Cynthia Murray, a Walmart associate in Laurel, Maryland. “They’re intimidated, and they are afraid. My family and other families have paid the price for freedom. And when you tell me I can’t talk about a union, you’re taking my freedom from me.”
Workers in more than 100 stores in 15 states across the country have joined together and signed union representation cards, citing a lack of respect from the company, as well as poverty-level wages and sub-par benefits as reasons they need a union voice on the job.
Despite Walmart’s long and well-documented history of anti-worker activities, associates say they are emboldened by the election of Barack Obama and the introduction of the Employee Free Choice Act in Congress.
The campaign comes at a time when workers find their wages have stagnated, even as Walmart and the Walton family continue to make record profits. Walmart’s recently released 2009 10K shows the company made $13.4 billion in profits last year.
“Walmart’s slogan is ‘Save Money, Live Better,’” said Vikki Gill, a former Walmart manager in St. Louis, Missouri. “Walmart is saving money and living better at the associates’ expense.”
In the new video, which can be viewed at http://www.walmartworkersforchange.org/index.php/pages/articles/walmarts_war_on_workers, 10 workers from coast to coast detail the company’s response to their organizing efforts. Dominique Sloane and Mark Moore, of Dallas, Texas, were told that their store would be closed if workers voted to organize. In Miami, Florida, Cheryl Guzman was interrogated by a manager about who among her colleagues supported a union. Linda Haluska, of Glendale, Illinois, was called into four mandatory meetings in one week, where she and her colleagues were shown anti-union, anti-Employee Free Choice videos.
“Since we’ve started talking union, the company has been holding meetings, they’ve flown people in,” said Sloan. “They’ve even mentioned as far as with the union, there’s a possibility that stores may close.”
Walmart Workers for Change is a new campaign made up of thousands of Walmart workers joining together to form a union and negotiate better benefits, higher wages, and more opportunity for a better future.
The campaign is a project of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), America’s neighborhood union. The UFCW represents 1.3 million workers nationwide, with nearly one million working in the supermarket industry. Many of UFCW members also work at national retail stores such as Bloomingdales, Macys, H&M, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Saks Fifth Avenue, RiteAid, CVS, and Syms.