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We Want to Work Full-Time: IKEA Worker Speaks Out

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Dan Stillwell, a part-time worker from the IKEA store in Pittsburgh, Pa., spoke to Newshour about barely getting by while working seven days a week.

For thousands of workers in the retail industry, working full-time doesn’t mean the security of a full-time job. Instead, many workers cobble together multiple part-time jobs with no benefits. The result, predictably, is lower wages, fewer benefits, and schedules that make life impossible for families.

But workers at IKEA are coming together in a campaign to change the corporate practices that deny workers full-time positions. The workers have gathered more than 6,000 signatures on a petition asking IKEA to offer every employee a full-time position. The workers have also taken their fight public, most recently giving an interview to PBS’s Newshour.

Dan Stillwell, a part-time worker from the IKEA store in Pittsburgh, Pa., spoke to Newshour about barely getting by while working seven days a week.

As Dan explained to Newshour, “I’d like to have one job with benefits – forty hours – to pay my bills and be able to save up for retirement. Or I won’t be able to stop working until I die.”

Dan works fifty hours each week, but is not eligible for benefits at either of his two part-time jobs. Without benefits, he cannot afford health insurance. After investing 16 years with IKEA, he only makes $9.25 an hour. But Dan’s story is familiar to many retail workers. That is why he joined IKEA workers from across the country to speak out for a union voice at work.

Dan first spoke out in an editorial to a Pittsburgh newspaper. Since then, IKEA workers have been gaining momentum in their push for full-time hours. Last month, workers from IKEA stores across the country traveled to IKEA’s North American headquarters to deliver their petition directly to the company’s top management. Now, media and economists are taking notice of the struggle of workers putting in full-time hours at part-time jobs.

You can watch Dan’s interview on PBS’s Newshour, or read more about his story in an editorial that he published in the Pittsburgh News-Gazette. To show your support for IKEA workers, sign their petition for full-time hours.

BREAKING: WALMART WORKERS HOLD SIT IN AT LOS ANGELES STORE

Workers in Southern California Begin First Sit-Down Strike in Company History to Protest Retaliation

***Follow the conversation at #WalmartStrikers and watch live stream at Blackfridayprotests.org*** 

strikeLOS ANGELES – OUR Walmart members, some of whom were part of the first Walmart strike in October 2012, have just sat down near registers and next to racks of a Walmart store in Crenshaw. The group of striking workers, from stores throughout California, has placed tape over their mouths signifying the company’s illegal efforts to silence workers who are calling for better jobs. Even as the mega-retailer brings in $16 billion in annual profits and Walmart’s owners build on their $150 billion in wealth, the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year.

“Stand Up, Live Better!  Sit Down, Live Better!” the group chanted before sitting down.

Workers are holding signs resembling those of the first retail sit-down strike at Woolworth in 1937, when retail workers at the then-largest retailer in the country called for the company to increase pay, provide a 40-hour work week and stop the retaliation against workers who spoke out.

“I’m sitting down on strike today to protest Walmart’s illegal fear tactics and to send a message to management and the Waltons that they can’t continue to silence us and dismiss the growing calls for $15 an hour and full-time work that workers are raising across the country,” said Kiana Howard, a mother and Walmart striker.

“Walmart and the Waltons are making billions of dollars from our work while paying most of us less than $25,000 a year,” Howard continued. “We know that Walmart and the Waltons can afford fair pay, and we know that we have the right to speak out about it without the company threatening the little that we do have.”

To date, workers at more than 2,100 Walmart stores nationwide have signed a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing consistent, full-time hours. After taking the petition to members of the Walton family, supporters committed to returning to stores on Black Friday if jobs aren’t improved by then.

“Walmart is a giant engine creating vast wealth for one family and heartbreaking poverty for many working families, just like Woolworth’s in the 1937, when 100 young women in Detroit sat down and occupied a Woolworth’s store, and won wage increases and many other demands,” said Dana Frank, an expert on the U.S. labor movement, professor of history at University of California, Santa Cruz and the author of Women Strikers Occupy Chain Store, Win Big: The 1937 Woolworth’s Sit-Down. “The strike was enormously popular, because it struck a chord in the public: Woolworth’s, like Walmart, was paying its workers poverty wages, but raking in spectacular profits that the public knew about. In Crenshaw today, as brave Walmart workers sit down to protest the company’s threats against employees who speak out for better jobs, it’s time for Walmart to finally heed the  growing movement calling on it to improve jobs and respect working people.”

“We cannot continue to allow our country’s largest private employer to pay workers so little that they can’t put food on the table for their families and then punish those who speak up about it. Walmart’s actions are immoral, illegal and they are destroying the American values that we all hold dear,” said Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The sit-down strike comes on the heels of a New York Times story on how persistent understaffing at Walmart stores is contributing to wasted food, un-stocked shelves and lower sales. For the past three years, workers have been raising concerns about understaffing and theimpact on the company’s wellbeing with managers, shareholders and executives. Investors and analysts are also reacting today to the company’s third-quarter financial reports, which indicate that persistent staffing problems are keeping the company from improving customer traffic and growing the business.

Hundreds of community supporters plan to join striking workers later this evening at 5 p.m. outside the Walmart store located at 8500 Washington Blvd in Pico Rivera, where the first protests against Walmart’s illegal retaliation were held in 2012.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: UFCW and OUR Walmart have the purpose of helping Wal-Mart employees as individuals or groups in their dealings with Wal-Mart over labor rights and standards and their efforts to have Wal-Mart publically commit to adhering to labor rights and standards. UFCW and OUR Walmart have no intent to have Walmart recognize or bargain with UFCW or OUR Walmart as the representative of Walmart employees.



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Bloomingfoods Workers Win Voice on the Job with Local 700

photo-51-300x225In an accelerated, fair process marked by company neutrality and community involvement, around 250 workers across five Bloomingfoods Coop grocery stores and a commissary that supplies ready-made food have chosen a real voice at work with UFCW Local 700.

Bloomingfoods workers had reached out and asked UFCW members for help in getting their company to remain neutral and let them have a free and fair choice to join a union. With your help, the company committed to a fair process and the workers overwhelmingly voted to join with their fellow grocery workers in Local 700.

“Bloomingfoods is part of what I love most about Bloomington,” said Casie Jetter, a Bloomingfoods commissary worker. “I want the co-op to remain strong and successful so that my daughter can some day shop at the same co-op that has remained a staple in our community. Bringing a union to Bloomingfoods will put our co-op one more step ahead of competition in an increasingly competitive market.”

In addition to the hard work of UFCW activists and members across the country, members of UFCW 700 and 23 worked hard to support the efforts of the organizing workers on the ground.

“This marks the end of our unionizing campaign,” member owner and employee Kaisa Goodman said. “But this is just the beginning of our contract campaign…one thing has ended, but something bigger is about to begin.”