Corporate Responsibility

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A Labor Day Message from Bill Fletcher, Chair of the Retail Justice Alliance

Originally posted on The Retail Justice Alliance

graphic via AFL-CIO

graphic via AFL-CIO

As we approach Labor Day, the growing divide between the rich and poor continues to dominate the national conversation and, in some parts of the country, has led to social unrest.  While many politicians, academics and economists agree that our country’s wealth gap is bad for the economy and our society as a whole, there is only so much they can do.  Big players in the business world must address income inequality, as well.

There is no company more responsible for creating and reinforcing the wealth gap through its low-wage, part-time business practices than Walmart, our country’s largest private employer.  At the company’s own admission, the majority of Walmart’s 1.4 million workers are paid less than $25,000 a year. That means that too many Walmart workers are struggling to cover the basic necessities like food and shelter and are forced to rely on taxpayer funded supports like food stamps to survive.

Walmart can afford to pay its workers more.  The company makes between $16 and $17 billion a year in profits, and just six members of the Walton Family—heirs to the Walmart empire—have more wealth than 42 percent of American families combined.

Labor Day is a perfect moment for Walmart to lead by example and help ease the economic and social unrest that is plaguing our country. The Retail Justice Alliance calls on Walmart to change the way it does business so that Walmart workers can support their families and contribute to their local communities and economies.

Texas Cargill Workers Vote Union “Yes”

Cargills-300x225Cargill workers in Fort Worth, Texas, voted to join UFCW Local 540. There are more than 200 workers at the ground beef processing plant where they produce hamburger patties and sausage.  Workers decided to come together for a union voice for several reasons. Workers claim that many of their peers have been unjustly fired. And, they say verbal abuse and disrespect on the job are common. When the company threatened to cut wages, workers went into action to fight back.

With a union voice and a union contract through UFCW Local 540, workers say they are looking forward to dignity and respect on the job, good wages, and affordable benefits.

UFCW Members Hold Actions in Support of El Super Workers

El-Super1-300x200On July 23, hundreds of UFCW members and their supporters joined workers from El Super stores throughout Southern California in a bus tour that brought protests to 37 of the chain’s stores in a single day. Protests were held in support of El Super workers as they continue to fight for a good contract. Workers have been without a contract since September 27, 2013.

The day of action began in the early morning hours and culminated in hundreds attending a rally at El Super’s regional headquarters in Paramount, Calif., a largely Latino community about ten miles east of Los Angeles.

Members from UFCW Locals 135, 324, 770, and 1167, participated in the day of action that was designed to keep the pressure on El Super management as negotiations appear to have stalled weeks after the stores union employees voted for strike authorization in June.

Wages, paid sick days, and respect on the job have topped the list of issues that union negotiators have pushed hard to advance for months but have run into “a brick wall of indifference on the part of El Super management,” according to UFCW Local 324 Secretary-Treasurer Andrea Zinder.

Despite the company’s apparent unwillingness to compromise, workers at the chain’s union stores have not backed down. They have continued a near constant drum beat of pressure aimed at store management that has included everything from rallies in store parking lots to petition drives. Seven of the company’s 44 U.S. stores are union as a result of the Mexico-based retailer’s purchase of Gigante’ in 2008.