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Walmart Workers Hold Protests in 10 Countries

Walmart action in India

Walmart action in India

Following historic sit-down strikes in Los Angeles last week, Walmart workers in 10 countries joined American workers’ protests yesterday, calling for change at Walmart. Citing similar concerns, Walmart workers in Brazil, Mexico, the UK, Colombia, Argentina, India, Canada, Switzerland and the US said they were tired of Walmart’s failure to respect basic workers’ rights.

Workers around the world want to expose Walmart’s bad labor practices throughout the company’s stores, warehouses and global supply chain.

“I’m working to build the profits of the richest family on the globe, while putting my safety at risk just to go into work,” said one supply chain worker.  “The Waltons need to see and hear what they are doing to families around the globe.  It’s shameful.”

“I am worried about how I’m going to pay for groceries this week while Alice Walton has paid off a US$200 million luxury condo in New York City,” said Emily Wells, a Walmart worker in the US.  “The Waltons are at the center of the income inequality problems that are hurting the global economy and all of our families.”

According to UNI, The Walton family is worth “$150 billion and grows that wealth by more than $8 million a day.  It would take a Brazilian Walmart worker a total of 30 million years to earn the equivalent of the Walton family’s wealth.”

Yesterday’s protests were a sign of Walmart workers’ growing discontent with the company’s low-road business model. With pressure mounting globally, American workers and their supporters pledge to take action as Black Friday nears. You can get involved by visiting BlackFridayProtests.org.

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.

#WalmartStrikers Hold First-Ever Walmart Sit-Down Strikes, Protesters Arrested

B2WFrQTCMAAZ_TmIn a clear indication of mounting frustration with Walmart and the Walton family’s failure to respect workers’ rights, Walmart workers in California have gone on strike. Today, Los Angeles Walmart workers participated in their boldest action to date: the first-ever sit-down strike at a Walmart store.

Workers entered the store at approximately 11 a.m. and refused to move, holding a sit-in near cash registers and racks at the store for a 2-hour period. Following the sit-down strike, the group headed to another Los Angeles-area store, where they held yet another sit-down strike inside, accompanied by a rally outside.

Workers and their supporters took over the intersection near the Walmart, refusing to leave until they were arrested and removed from the intersection. Approximately 25 were arrested.

Sit-down strikes and protests have a long history as a catalyst for change in the struggle for a better workplace and civil rights.

Workers have carried out sit-down strikes dating as far back as 1906, when 3,000 General Electric workers sat down on the job to protest the unfair firing of their coworkers. In 1937, a handful of fearless Woolworth women started a nationwide movement for better working conditions and living wages when they sat down in their Detroit store and decided not to give up until they won the treatment they deserved. These women inspired and influenced Americans across the country. About twenty years later, 4 college students in Greensboro, North Carolina would sit down at a white-only Woolworth’s lunch counter, starting a wave of sit-ins that eventually helped dismantle segregation in the Jim Crow South.

Woolworth has already been called the Walmart of its day. Now, in 2014, Walmart workers decided that Walmart’s most recent acts of retaliation warranted this historic action and wanted to tell the Walton family who owns Walmart that things must change.

Over the last year, Walmart workers have pressured Walmart to change its pregnancy policy, provide access to more hours and most recently to pledge to phase out its minimum wage jobs. However, when workers’ calls for change started to gain momentum, Walmart struck back. They retaliated against vocal workers standing up for better wages and worker conditions.

Among those fired for standing up was Rosa Valenzuela, who was terminated just a month short of her 20-year anniversary with the company. After giving Walmart nearly two decades of her life, the company created excuses to discipline the sixty-seven year old, even citing an incident where she was said to have clocked out 2 minutes late.

“I worked for Walmart for nearly 20 years and they fired me for speaking up for all of our rights. I was a stone in their shoe, so they got rid of me. I feel betrayed,” Rosa said. “I’m out here today so Walmart knows that we won’t be scared into silence. We’re going to keep standing up for our rights until they start to respect us.”

Unfortunately, Rosa’s story is just one of the many incidents of retaliation against workers who dare to risk the small bit of security they have for a better Walmart.

Today in Los Angeles, California, workers sent a clear message to Walmart: retaliation against workers who stand up in the fight for $15, full time and respect in the workplace will not be tolerated.

“I’m striking today for workers like Evelin, Victoria, Rosa, Maria Elena, Graciela who Walmart retaliated against for standing up for change,” said Paramount Walmart worker Martha Sellers. “Walmart and the Waltons need to know that they can’t silence us all.”

You can support the #WalmartStrikers by visiting BlackFridayProtests.org.