Call Walmart Now and Tell the Company Women Shouldn’t Be Fired Just for Being Pregnant

This article was originally posted by Jobs with Justice.

It’s been more than six months since Walmart, which was under pressure from associates and women’s organizations, agreed to change its pregnancy policy to provide basic accommodations for employees experiencing complications with their pregnancies. But a Walmart store in Chicago reveals the company has fallen far short of truly implementing its policy to support pregnant workers.

In April, store associate Thelma Moore was injured by falling TV boxes while shopping at the Chatham Walmart on her day off. Then two months pregnant, her doctors recommended she stay home for two weeks, then made a list of accommodations she needed in order to return to work, including not lifting boxes over 25 pounds and being able to take water breaks every two hours. Thelma filled out the necessary paperwork but was told no positions were available that could accommodate her. Walmart then fired her for missing too many days.

Unfortunately, Thelma’s case is not an isolated one. In February, her co-worker Bene’t Holmes suffered a miscarriage on Walmart property when she was four months pregnant after being denied her request to stop stocking chemicals and lifting heavy boxes.

Workers’ at Thelma’s store and the community in Chicago have been organizing to support women like Thelma and Bene’t – so far they have collected petition signatures, sent a delegation to the manager and held a prayer vigil.

Now, we need your help to turn up the heat. Call 1-800-WALMART (925-6278) today to demand the Chatham store in Chicago reinstate Thelma and comply with Walmart’s pregnancy accommodation policy.

Here’s why your call matters. If the Walmart customer service line receives 200 complaints about the Chatham store, it will trigger an investigation by the home office.
Thelma Moore was fired from her store after requesting accommodations for her pregnancy.

Here’s a helpful script for your call:

Hello, I’m calling to register a serious complaint about your Chatham store in Chicago (store #5781). I have learned that Thelma Moore, an associate at the store, was injured by falling boxes while shopping in her store on her day off. Her doctors recommended several accommodations to her job to protect the health of her pregnancy, but instead of accommodating her needs, the company fired her. Expecting mothers should not lose their jobs for making reasonable requests recommended by their doctor. I demand you reinstate Thelma Moore and follow the company’s new pregnancy policy.

As you make your call, members of Respect the Bump and Chicago Jobs With Justice will be demonstrating at Thelma’s store. Follow along with the protest with the hashtag #WalmartMoms. You can also let us know how your call went by commenting below!

While Thelma fights to get her job back, she and other members of Respect the Bump, an organization of pregnant women and new moms at Walmart, continue to hear from women who are being denied accommodations. It’s clear that Walmart needs to take action to ensure that their policy is fully implemented and enforced at every store, and go further to extend basic accommodations to all pregnant women who have a medical need for them, whether they have complications or a normal pregnancy.

As the largest private employer of women in the country, Walmart should set the standard for how women workers are treated throughout the industry and our economy. The stories of women like Thelma and Bene’t highlight the need for Congress to take action – including passing the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act – as well as the significance of the upcoming oral arguments in the pregnancy discrimination Supreme Court case Young v. United Parcel Service, which is scheduled to start December 3.

IKEA Worker: IKEA’s “Living Wage” Policy Still Leaving Many Workers Behind

IKEA_SingaporeDan Stillwell, a “co-worker” at IKEA for 16 years, says he’s being left behind. According to an article that he authored in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, IKEA’s recent steps toward paying workers more is a step in the right direction, but its policies are still leaving many workers who have worked there for years without any increase in pay.

The recent steps Dan is referring to are increases in base pay for new hires based on what the company deems the “living wage” is in each region. Thanks to actions of low-wage workers who have participated in fast food strikes, Walmart walkouts, and countless other shows of solidarity, workers have been able to put pressure on their employers to create better worker-policies that are both good for the employee, and business.

Dan points out that IKEA is one such company to take notice, and that it is a good start–however since IKEA’s wage increase only applies to new hires,  workers like him, who have invested years in the company but don’t work full-time, are still struggling to make ends meet.

It “isn’t just about a dollar amount”, says Dan, who says that his fellow workers across the city of Philadelphia, and the country, are trying to build a better overall economy that works for everyone, not just the corporations and the 1%. “When workers invest in their employers, working hard to build companies and make them profitable, our companies should also invest in us,” he adds.

He continues, showing how although he feels loyal to IKEA, the company has changed over the years:

“I was a senior in high school when IKEA opened its store in Pittsburgh. I got a job in the retailer’s restaurant, making $4.25 an hour, and I loved how we were like one big family at IKEA. I’ve known customers and coworkers for years. On a flight to Georgia, I ran into an old customer who remembered me from his family’s weekly brunch at IKEA.

But companies change. As time passed, I saw the family-like atmosphere among coworkers and management turn more profit-centered as full-time jobs were replaced with part-time positions. When I finished my first 15 years at IKEA Pittsburgh, I was making $10 an hour. Even after working steadily at 40 hours per week, I wasn’t making enough money to survive on in 2003.

Frustrated by the lack of good jobs in Pittsburgh, I moved to New Jersey and Georgia for 10 years. But Pittsburgh is where my family lives. When I came back, I reapplied at IKEA and was rehired at an hourly wage of $9.25 — less than what I earned in 2003.”

Dan stresses that he is grateful for his job, but like many others in his position, not earning a living wage, at any number of hours, is a difficult way to provide for oneself, let alone one’s family.

IKEA workers have recently launched a petition calling for IKEA to raise wages for all employees, not just new hires, as well as offer full-time hours. With his current wages and hours, Dan usually makes less than $200 a week, before taxes, and has had to take up another job in order to pay his bills. He also has trouble saving any money for the future. In fact, living paycheck to paycheck means he’s one check away from financial ruin, he says. He can’t even afford medical insurance.

It’s time for IKEA to return to it’s family-like atmosphere, when it offered 40 hour work weeks and valued the workers who make the retailer the success it is. Despite retail being a driving force of our country’s economy (making up 25% of all jobs here) retail workers are getting the very short end of the stick–while cost of living only soars higher.

Dan concludes that:

“IKEA is a successful and profitable company, and I believe that if it invested more in its workforce, the company would have happier employees, keep employees longer and increase sales. That’s why I and coworkers are calling on IKEA to go beyond its small steps toward a living wage and raise pay more substantially while providing more full-time job opportunities.

The IKEA concept of life — running a strong business with common sense and creating a better everyday life for people — can be put into practice for its workers and customers alike.”

Sign the co-worker petition started by workers in Seattle here:



Help Support IKEA workers!

2493When IKEA workers in the United States started calling on their employer to provide jobs that enabled the employees to make ends meet, IKEA responded by raising the starting pay of workers to match the living wage of each community where they worked.

This was a great step forward, however veteran employees who have worked at IKEA for years aren’t set to receive any raise at all. Investing in these experienced employees will improve the well-being of IKEA’s workforce, and lead to better employee retention and in turn, higher sales growth.

That’s why IKEA workers have started a petition, asking IKEA to offer full-time jobs to every co-worker who wants one, as well as to raise the pay for all co-workers, not just new hires. These workers need the support of customers allies–please sign add your name to their petition and together we can convince IKEA to do the right thing.

Sign here: