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OUTreach Press Release in Response to Walmart’s CEI Score from HRC

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For Immediate Release: November 19, 2015

Contact: Amy Gray, agray@ufcw.org

 

LGBTQ LABOR GROUP DEMANDS HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN TO HOLD WALMART ACCOUNTABLE FOR ALLEGED DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBTQ WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES

Group calls for changes to Walmart’s high Corporate Equality Index score with the HRC in light of alleged discrimination cases involving LGBTQ workers

(Washington, D.C.) – UFCW OUTreach, the LGBTQ constituency group for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), along with the Making Change at Walmart campaign, released the following statement in response to Walmart’s high Corporate Equality Index score from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

Walmart recently received a near perfect score of 90 out of 100 for its Corporate Equality Index score from the HRC. The company received this accolade despite two discrimination suits filed by Walmart workers in the past few months and numerous stories of alleged harassment and discrimination from LGBTQ Walmart workers.

The two suits include the most recent one from Samantha Azzarano, who alleges that she was harassed and then fired from a New Jersey Walmart for being transgender. The other discrimination suit was filed by Jacqueline Cote in Massachusetts, who alleges that she was repeatedly denied when she tried to add her same-sex spouse to her Walmart health insurance.

“It’s disappointing and quite frankly irresponsible that once again HRC has issued Walmart a 90 rating in the Corporate Equality Index. This year alone, Walmart has had to defend itself in two alleged discrimination cases involving LGBTQ workers. How can HRC continue to justify a high rating for a company with this kind of record? The LGBTQ community deserves to know the full truth about Walmart and why they should spend their dollars elsewhere,” said Michele Kessler, President of UFCW OUTreach.

Throughout the year, union members and LGBTQ  advocates have been telling HRC that “enough is enough,” when it comes to the HRC not holding Walmart accountable for all of the accounts of alleged discrimination and harassment experienced by that LGBTQ Walmart workers and their families.

UFCW OUTreach held meetings with HRC staffers in efforts for the organization to create a better and more comprehensive system when it comes to the Corporate Equality Index and stressed the importance of valuing companies with strong union practices. UFCW OUTreach also sent a letter to Chad Griffin, President of the HRC, calling for the organization to suspend Walmart’s high rating in light of Walmart’s stances on citywide legislation in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and statewide legislation in Arkansas, that caused serious setbacks in protections for LGBTQ people in the state.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, where Walmart is both a member and has a representative on the Board of Directors, voted unanimously, to support the repeal of a citywide nondiscrimination ordinance that included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, Walmart refused to speak out against Arkansas Senate Bill 202 (SB 202), a statewide law which went into effect earlier this year that prevents any jurisdiction from passing an ordinance to ban discrimination.

“Together, we are standing up to the HRC and calling on them to hold Walmart responsible for what is happening to these LGBTQ workers. We will not stop until Walmart changes for the better, and organizations like HRC serve as true allies to LGBTQ workers and discontinue its support for companies that fail in promoting LGBTQ workers’ rights,” said Kessler.

Retail and Walmart Worker Struggles Highlighted During Democratic Debate

replaceableLast month, Making Change at Walmart aired ads during the first Democratic presidential debate with the purpose of bringing the struggles of Walmart workers and retail workers into America’s living rooms. The ads reached over 30 million people, got covered by national media outlets, and the #OurWalmartVoices hashtag was used by thousands on Twitter and Facebook.

In order to keep the issues facing America’s retail workers a centerpiece of the 2016 presidential campaign, the ads aired again during the second Democratic debate and Making Change at Walmart announced an “Are You With Us?” initiative that calls on all presidential candidates to tweet their support for Walmart and retail workers. The ads again were the most talked about of the debate and #OurWalmartVoices was a trending topic during the debate. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted the ad, saying that Walmart “has gotta start paying living wages to their workers, not starvation wages.”

NEW AD CAMPAIGN CALLS ON DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES TO STAND WITH WALMART WORKERS

#OurWalmartVoices ad campaign to air during first Democratic presidential debate, features voices of real Walmart workers

isaiahWashington, DC — “Making Change at Walmart (MCAW),” the national campaign to change Walmart, announced a new ad campaign called #OurWalmartVoices that will begin airing this Tuesday during the first Democratic presidential debate on CNN.

In a direct effort to reach all the 2016 presidential candidates, the hard-hitting ad campaign will feature the difficult and troubling experiences of a diverse group of current and former Walmart workers. From poor wages and benefits, to decreasing hours and difficult scheduling, the ad campaign highlights the emotional impact that many workers, and their families, face at Walmart and all across the retail industry.

“This is the ad that Walmart doesn’t want you to see, but that the candidates running for president need to see,” said Jess Levin, communications director at MCAW. “These current and former Walmart workers represent the voice of America’s retail workers. They have endured years of low wages, decreased hours, and abuse on the job. We are going to make sure their voices – and the voices of retail workers all across the country – are heard in the 2016 presidential election.”

The first phase of the #OurWalmartVoices ad campaign will feature two 30-second commercials. The first, called “Replaceable,” will highlight the experiences of hard-working retail workers at Walmart. The second, called “Real Change,” specifically calls on the Democratic presidential candidates, as well as the Republican candidates, to stand with them, their families, and workers who are just like them in their effort to change retailers like Walmart for the better.

The ad campaign will first air nationally during the CNN debate and then continue a national run the following two days on CNN. Online, the ad will appear on Facebook and Twitter. In total, the ad will be seen more than 34 million times.

Today’s announcement of the #OurWalmartVoices ad campaign is part of a larger grassroots effort that will also include targeted social media and on-the-ground actions across multiple states, designed to reach Walmart and retail workers all across the country.

As part of this grassroots effort, MCAW will be mobilizing the 1.3 million members of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, as well as members of the OUR Walmart campaign, to help spread the word of this new grassroots initiative within Walmart stores and across communities in key battleground states. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that all candidates, Republican or Democrat, take notice of the struggles of retail workers, and to also highlight these real issues as part of the 2016 race for the White House.

Both ads can be viewed at the HelpChangeWalmart.com, as well as at UFCW.org.

BACKGROUND

The script for “Replaceable” reads:

(Text) These are the voices of America’s retail workers…

“The executives and management treat us like we’re disposable.”

“Replaceable.”

“They think I’m worthless.”

“That we don’t matter.”

“They cut our benefits.”

“Cut our hours”

“And force us into part-time jobs.”

“And erratic schedules”

(Text) This is life for retail workers in America.

“They get big profits — we get left behind.”

“We get left behind.”

(Text) The time has come for real change.

(Text) HelpChangeWalmart.com

(Text) To be continued…

The script for “Real Change” reads:

“We’re struggling.”

“My schedule is erratic.”

“My hours cut”

“and so are my benefits.”

“We can’t survive on these wages.”

“We need change now!”

“Real change.”

“To improve the lives of millions of workers.”

“To rebuild the middle class”

“Because our families”

“deserve better.”

“So Hillary!”

“Bernie!”

“And Trump, and Republicans, you too.”

“Are you with us?”

“Are you?”

(Text) For retail workers everywhere, the time has come for real change.

(Text) Join the fight

(Text) HelpChangeWalmart.com