March, 2011

ADVISORY: Walmart Organizer Joining White House Women

WHAT: Press availability with Ernestine Bassett – a Laurel, Maryland Walmart Associate who is working to organize her workplace, after her participation at Monday’s White House event on women and organizing.

Event also streaming live at 9:00am EDT, viewable at http://s.dol.gov/DP or http://whitehouse.gov/live.

WHEN: Approximately 10:30 EDT, Monday, March 28, 2011

WASHINGTON – Monday morning at 9:00am EDT, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the White House and Department of Labor are hosting a Women’s History Month forum with women workers and organizers, discussing their courageous roles in organizing their workplaces.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls will be joined by women who are currently working to organize their workplaces, including Ernestine Bassett, a Walmart Associate from Laurel, Maryland.  A significant majority of Walmart’s hourly Associates are women.

“”As a retired CWA member, I understand there is strength in numbers. I know first hand the pride that comes with being part of a union. That’s why I am committed, despite significant intimidation from my employer, to winning that same respect for my fellow associates at this county’s largest private employer, Walmart,”" said Bassett.

On March 25, 1911, one hundred years ago, 146 garment workers – most of them young women and girls – died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City.  A seminal event in the United States labor movement, public pressure after the fire spurred critical and long overdue workplace safety reforms. This compelling history highlights the critical need to ensure worker safety and labor standards for all workers. It is also a story of women who were seeking to improve their workplaces and lives by organizing– the same action many women are taking up today in the workplace.

The White House event is not open to the press, but Ernestine Bassett will be available for interviews after the discussion.

Jennifer Stapleton, Assistant Director of the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Making Change at Walmart campaign said, “”Ernestine Bassett is a profile in courage – working to organize her store despite intimidation by her employer, Walmart.  The role of our campaign, Making Change at Walmart, is to stand with workers like Ernestine, who are organizing for respect in the workplace.  We’re looking forward to her participation and the discussion.”

Contact:
Casie Yoder – (202) 223-3111 x1451 / cyoder@ufcw.org

Making Change at Walmart Statement on Dukes: Supreme Court Must Rule to Ensure Equality in the Workplace

Jennifer Stapleton, Assistant Director of the United Food and Commercial Worker’s Making Change at Walmart campaign, issued the following statement in response to this morning’s Supreme Court proceedings in the Walmart Stores v. Dukes case:

“This morning, before the U.S. Supreme Court, legal representatives for the more than one million women of Dukes v. Walmart Stores stood up for the right to fairly challenge the years of inequality these women experienced in the workplace.

“Making Change at Walmart stands with all Walmart associates as they strive to secure the respect in the workplace they deserve.  However, Walmart’s response to this case – that the company is too big for justice – threatens not only the rights of the women of Dukes, but the rights of all workers, male and female, who seek fair treatment and respect at work.

“Making Change at Walmart is committed to the idea that all workers should receive equal treatment. Walmart’s promotion practices stood in the way of this goal – resulting in women being paid less and promoted at lower rates than their male colleagues. The Supreme Court must rule to uphold the certification of the women plaintiffs as a class, allowing the case to move forward as a class action lawsuit. A jury can then consider the merits of the charges brought against Walmart.”

About Making Change at Walmart:
Making Change at Walmart seeks to promote the American values of equality, dignity and respect in the workplace. The campaign is making change by working directly with Walmart Associates to claim the respect on the job they deserve, holding Walmart corporate managers accountable to hourly employees and the public for their practices and joining with community leaders in major cities across America to make sure that any new jobs offered by Walmart meet strong standards for healthy, growing communities.

UFCW Applauds White House, Department of Labor Event Celebrating Women Organizers

(Washington, D.C.) – This morning, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the White House and Department of Labor hosted a forum with women workers and organizers, discussing their courageous roles in organizing their workplaces.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, were joined by women who are currently working to organize their workplaces, including Ernestine Bassett, a Walmart Associate from Laurel, Maryland.

“We are still fighting to provide adequate working conditions for all women and men on the job, ensure that no person within our borders is exploited for their labor, and uphold collective bargaining as a means to give workers a seat at the tables of power,” said President Obama in a proclamation released at the event.

“At today’s event, the Administration made it very clear that it values the role unions play in building the middle class in this country,” said Joe Hansen, UFCW International President. “We thank them for standing with courageous women who are currently trying to improve their lives by organizing their workplaces.”

“Walmart is the largest private employer in this country,” said Patrick O’Neill, UFCW Director of Organizing. “Their practices set the standard for the retail industry. We are pleased that the White House and Department of Labor gave a Walmart associate the chance to testify about the intimidation she and her coworkers face when trying to exercise their legal rights to organize for respect on the job.”

“I am committed, despite significant intimidation from my employer, to winning respect for my fellow associates at Walmart,” said Ernestine Bassett. “We are organizing to ensure safety and a better life for all Walmart associates.”

To watch the event online, visit: