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Walmart Workers’ Respect the Bump Campaign Holds First National Meeting, Protest in Chicago

In response to the illegal and unethical treatment of pregnant workers and the widespread financial hardship forced onto working women at Walmart, Walmart moms met in Chicago to call for Walmart to publicly commit to better pay and protections at the country’s largest employer of women. With the support of the country’s leading women’s rights advocates, the group developed a list of urgent policy changes the company must make to ensure that the women who are helping the company profit are not living in poverty or putting their health at risk.

The group also took their concerns to the Walmart store in the Chatham neighborhood of Chicago, where Walmart worker Thelma Moore was fired for the time off she took to ensure her pregnancy remained viable after an in-store accident.

“Walmart could be paving the way for good jobs for working moms like us,” said Moore. “Instead, we’re fighting for bathroom breaks when we’re pregnant and steady schedules that let us get reliable childcare and put food on the table.”

Moore recently filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint last week about her mistreatment at Walmart. Her complaint comes on the heels of a nationwide class action lawsuit against Walmart for discriminating against pregnant mothers.

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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.

Paid Family Leave Benefits Working Mothers

family_leave_blog_photoPaid family leave has long been an important issue to both working families nationwide and the UFCW, and recent economic data has shown support for instituting paid family leave in America. A recent New York Times article by Claire Cain Miller looks at the recent drop in the percentage of women in the U.S. workforce – those who are working or want to work.  The article, based on a July 2014 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors, asserts that the drop, while small, has an impact on the overall labor force and can be attributed to stalled progress on family-friendly policies. An important fix, they explain, would be providing paid family leave, which would encourage women to stay in the labor force during motherhood.

The report explains that policies and developments like the Earned Income Tax Credit, birth control, household technology, and increased educational attainment among women caused the rise in labor force participation among women. The report also found that in other advanced countries, family-friendly policies played a part in advancing women’s participation in the workforce. The US has not seen a rise in women’s participation in the workforce since 1990, and the report suggests that’s because of the lack of family friendly policies like paid parental leave and paid family sick leave.

Both Miller and the White House report look to California, with a state Paid Family Leave income-compensation program, as an encouraging example of the effect of paid parental leave. The most promising statistics: low-income mothers more than doubled their the time they took for parental leave after giving birth, and they increased significantly the number of hours mothers worked two to three years after giving birth. There’s no doubt that access to paid family leave is an important factor in whether mothers choose to remain in the labor force after giving birth, as it allows the mother to keep her job and financial stability.

That’s why the UFCW is a strong advocate of paid parental and sick leave for both women and men and why we advocate for these kind of policies in Congress and fight for them in our own union contracts. Women, especially those who work low-wage jobs, face many barriers as they struggle to balance work and a family life. Paid family leave would be an important step in ensuring family economic security for both women and men.