Walmart Workers Take a Stand at Company’s Shareholders’ Meeting

Walmart Worker Panel in Bentonville

On June 3, Walmart worker Margaret Hooten and former Walmart customer Jason Cooper Grabb gave speeches during Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting at the Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. Sponsored by Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), Hooten and Cooper Grabb wanted the company and its shareholders to hear some real stories about their experiences with Walmart.

Hooten, who is from Placerville, Calif., has been a Walmart cashier for five years, yet only makes $10.69 an hour. Cooper Grabb is a former Walmart customer from West Plains, Mo., who stopped shopping there after the company unjustly fired two of his friends.

“I love my job, but I’m frustrated by the broken promises from management,” said Hooten. “Like many of you, when Walmart said it would increase wages, expand career opportunities, offer more training, and put more staff in our stores, I was excited. Then I got my paycheck. My raise was just 23 cents an hour.”

“[Since my friend Frank Swanson] was forced out of the company he loved, we have heard of more stories of workers mistreated, abused, and unjustly fired,” said Cooper Grabb. “Recently, the National Labor Relations Board ruled against Walmart for illegally firing and disciplining workers. Pregnant workers are not always treated with respect and, in some instances, get fired for an unexcused absence when, in fact, they were at their doctor caring for their unborn child. Senior workers, people over the age of 55 who have spent ten to 15 years at Walmart, are now being demoted, dismissed or forced out. And despite what Walmart says about investing in workers, workers report that many Walmart stores have been cutting hours and staff to offset the recent wage increases.”

During the week leading up to Walmart’s shareholders’ meeting, MCAW hosted a press conference with Walmart workers, who shared stories about being unable to afford rent, getting seriously injured on the job, and getting fired for unfair reasons. MCAW, along with allies and elected officials, also held rallies in St. Louis, Mo.; Grand Prairie, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Sacramento and Oakland, Calif., to call on Walmart to pay their workers higher wages; stop mistreating pregnant, senior and ill workers; and give workers more reliable schedules and hours.

Macy’s Workers and Supporters Rally for a Fair Contract

Macy's Rally2

Last week, hundreds of Macy’s workers and their supporters rallied in front of the Macy’s Herald Square flagship store in New York City, the largest department store in the United States, to demand a fair contract for 5,000 RWDSU Local 1-S members employed at Macy’s. The workers called for a fair contract that provides living wages, good benefits, reliable schedules, and affordable healthcare, and have authorized their union to call a strike if Macy’s does not meet their demands by June 15.

RWDSU Local 1-S members and Macy’s workers have grown increasingly frustrated over the clear increase in income inequality and corporate greed at the company. For example, in 2014, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren’s total compensation package rose to nearly $13 million, up from more than $11.4 million in 2013. Among Lundgren’s $233,000 in reported “other compensation” was $75,000 for a private jet and $8,000 for a personal driver. Meanwhile, many Macy’s employees earn as little as $9.00 per hour and cannot afford medical benefits through the company.

The rally, which also drew a large group of elected officials and supporters from all five boroughs, was organized by RWDSU Local 1-S, which represents 5,000 workers at four Macy’s stores in the New York City area: the Herald Square flagship store in Manhattan and branch stores located in the Bronx, Queens, and White Plains.

“The workers rallying today have always been the real magic of Macy’s,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “The talented employees of the iconic Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square and other stores know how valuable they are to the company’s brand and profitability. Investing in the strength and quality of its workforce will help Macy’s attract more shoppers and regain a competitive advantage over online retailers like Amazon. We stand with Macy’s workers in their fight for a fair contract and support their decision to go on strike if the company does not negotiate in good faith.”

“The magic of Macy’s will be lost if the company uses this contract negotiation to put so many dedicated employees on the clearance rack,” said RWDSU Local 1-S President Ken Bordieri. “When our members are constantly worried about making ends meet, they can’t deliver the customer service that keeps millions of shoppers coming into the Macy’s stores every year. We urge the company to meet us at the bargaining table with a fair contract before June 15.”

Crème of the Crop Workers Ratify First Union Contract

Creme of Crop workers

On May 25, Crème of the Crop workers in Tacoma, Washington, voted to ratify their first union contract. Crème of the Crop is a women-owned and operated cannabis retail shop, and 100 percent of the workers, who are members of UFCW Local 367, voted to ratify the contract.

The two-year contract raises wages for budtenders and shift managers, and includes health insurance, an employer paid defined benefit pension plan, seven paid holidays, paid vacation and sick leave, and a seniority and grievance procedure.

“Local 367 stands together with the workers of Crème of the Crop,” said UFCW Local 367 President Denise Jagielo. “The path to a better life is through a stronger working class, and we are proud to welcome them to our family.”