Black History Month
January 30, 2014
The UFCW is proud to continue its yearly tradition of commemorating Black History Month each February. UFCW members have been at the forefront of a movement fighting for civil rights and equality, and justice for workers everywhere.
To continue that tradition, the UFCW is collecting stories from members and local unions that illustrate Black History Month by celebrating vicotries and heros of the fight for equality.
Submissions can include stories about UFCW members, staff members, politicians or civil rights leaders who deserve to be honored during Black History Month. Any stories about local unions, past or present, that showcase the fight for equality and the power of a union are welcomed as well.
Members and local union staff can send their stories, photos, suggestions or thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org to possibly be featured on the UFCW website, or can submit them to our ‘share your story‘ form.
November 29, 2013
Workers, Community Leaders in 9 Major Cities to Risk Arrest; Cite Walmart’s Poverty Pay
Nation Rallies Behind Walmart Workers; Black Friday Protests Mark One of Largest Mobilizations of Working Families in Recent History
Media Call: TODAY, 12pm ET/9am PT
RSVP/Call-in Info: Giovanna Frank-Vitale, 610-207-9167, email@example.com
For Live Updates and Photos: Black Friday protests across the nation throughout the day, visit: www.BlackFridayProtests.org
Follow on Twitter: @ChangeWalmart; @ForRespect; #WalmartStrikers
(USA) – Calling for better jobs, Walmart workers and community supporters across the nation are holding 1500 protests against the mega-retailer today, in one of the largest mobilizations of working families in recent history. As part of the protests already underway, workers, faith leaders and community supporters are risking arrest in at least nine major metropolitan cities, outraged that with $17 billion in profits, Walmart continues to pay many workers poverty wages. Workers and supporters are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, for Walmart to publicly commit to paying $25,000 a year and to provide more full-time work.
Workers and supporters are set to take peaceful civil disobedience in major cities from coast to coast, including Los Angeles, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle, Dallas, Sacramento, Secaucus, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. The group has been emboldened by revelations from Walmart’s CEO that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000, while the Walton family’s wealth totals over $144 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.
“We refuse to live in fear. And we refuse to accept scraps. That’s why there have been so many strikes and protests this month,” said Dorothy Halvorson, a Walmart employee in Placerville, California, who has worked at the store for 11 years and plans to take part in civil disobedience today. “We know that we are closer to change at Walmart than ever before – and it’s clear that Walmart knows it too. We won’t stop protesting until we get change. This Black Friday is historic, and we will only grow stronger from here.”
In recent weeks, protesting Walmart workers have received an outpouring of national support. Calling for an end to Walmart’s illegal retaliation and attempts to silence workers who speak out for better working conditions, workers have walked off their jobs in a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Ohio, Dallas, Florida, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
“The civil disobedience by Walmart workers and supporters across the country is a testament to the immense courage of these workers fighting for dignity, respect and a decent wage — the same things that working people have marched and rallied for in this country for decades,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, one of America’s foremost civil rights activists. “The civil rights movement of the past called for workers to be free and equal. Walmart workers today are free, but far from equal. The company has lost its way, and it’s an honor to support workers taking this powerful moral action to get Walmart on the right path.”
Earlier this month, a photo from a Canton, Ohio store went viral, as workers, customers and commentators pointed to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages. And the federal labor board recently announced it would prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights, providing additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs.
“As the largest company in the country, Walmart makes billions of dollars in profit while paying workers so little that many cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner. It shows a complete disregard for employees and their families,” said Rev. Ed Middleton, a pastor at First Community Church in Dallas, Texas who plans to risk arrest today. “The scope of today’s nationwide protests matches the outrage felt by Americans across the country. Walmart’s business model is morally indefensible, and we won’t stand for it.”
Since then, the company has been on the defensive. On Monday, when Walmart announced that Doug McMillon would replace Mike Duke as CEO, numerous business analysts highlighted that the incoming CEO would have to address Walmart’s failing business model and pay its workers more.
“I’m prepared to get arrested today for everyone who can’t stand up for themselves,” said Myron Byrd, a 45 year-old father of three who makes $20,000 as a full-time Walmart employee in Chicago. “I’ve never done civil disobedience before, but I know what it is. My mother participated in the civil rights movement, and always told me that if I saw something wrong, it was our job to change it. And that’s exactly what thousands of us are doing today – calling for change at Walmart and standing up for fair pay and better jobs.”
For updates and photos of Black Friday protests throughout the day, visit www.BlackFridayProtests.org and follow the conversation at @ChangeWalmart and #WalmartStrikers.
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.
May 13, 2013
Washington, DC- Today, the Making Change at Walmart campaign and its coalition partners announced the launch of a new website www.ReallyWalmart.org. The website, which showcases a number of video interviews of Walmart employees, community activists, environmentalists and others sharing their experiences with and concerns about Walmart, comes on the heels of Walmart launching a new multimillion-dollar ad-campaign and website of the same name titled “The Real Walmart”.
“Usually I work 36 hours a week but they cut hours…sometimes I even get only 26 hours and I am supposed to be fulltime,” said Chicago native and OUR Walmart member Rose Campbell, who is featured on the site. “I’ve even had 19 hours. I’ve got bills and none of that changes…you have to make do.”
ReallyWalmart.org includes testimony from Walmart employees, community activist and even Actor/Activist Danny Glover. The site also includes footage from elected officials, including President Obama’s keynote address to the Unite Food and Commercial Workers Union in 2008. Also featured is exclusive footage from labor activist and former Bangladesh garment worker Kalpona Aktar.
“We might not have millions of dollars to pay for TV ads, but we have the stories to share that Walmart doesn’t want the public to hear,” said OUR Walmart member Charlene Fletcher. “The truth is that Walmart is a company that puts profits over people and employs tactics and strategies that keep employees like me in jobs that don’t let us provide for our families. Even while Walmart’s profits are going up, my coworkers and I have to rely on food stamps just to cover groceries.”
Citing nearly $16 billion in annual profits and a CEO earning 1000 times the average employee, Walmart employees and communities across the globe are calling for a change of course at the company. Making Change at Walmart is calling on the company to raise wages, an end to retaliation against employees who speak out as well as increased access to full time hours so that employees make a minimum of $25,000 per year.
Additionally, the group is also calling on Walmart sign a binding agreement on fire and building safety to help prevent tragedies like last month’s Rana Plaza building collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh which caused the death of more than 1,000 garment workers.
Over the course of the last year, Walmart has seen its reputation and business practices questioned amidst bribery allegations, tragedies in its supply chain and turmoil amongst its workforce including strikes launched last year for the first time in the company’s 51 year history. Since 2011 Walmart has seen a decline in its reputational index rating, while its competitors have seen an increase during the same period and support for changing course at Walmart has been growing. Last fall, more than 30,000 supporters joined striking workers on picket lines around Black Friday and since then a number of actions have taken place at Walmart stores across the country including last month when hundreds of OUR Walmart members and their supporters called on the company to correct scheduling problems within stores.
The new website highlights stories from various Walmart employees including those who have called on the company to change course and leadership. Additionally, it features stories of Walmart employees who receive public assistance and those work along the supply chain.
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.
November 20, 2012
Pico Rivera, California – Workers who set off wave of walkouts in October walk off their jobs once again; one of 1,000 protests in run-up to Black Friday
As Black Friday nears, Walmart workers and community supporters are beginning 1,000 nationwide non-violent protests leading up to and on Black Friday, including strikes, rallies, flash mobs, direct action and other efforts to inform customers about the illegal actions that Walmart has been taking against its workers. As part of the protests, Walmart workers walked off the job Tuesday morning in Pico Rivera, just outside Los Angeles, in protest against the company’s attempts to silence workers who speak out for better jobs. In October, the workers in Pico Rivera were the first group of Walmart associates to go on strike in the company’s history.
Last week, the 1,000 protests kicked-off with warehouse workers from Southern California and Walmart workers from San Leandro, Calif., Seattle, and Dallas walking off the job. Workers in the Washington DC area joined them yesterday in going on strike. Walmart workers from cities across the country have announced additional strikes in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Washington DC, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota in the upcoming days.
“We’re not trying to shut down business, we are supporting our co-workers who speak out for better working conditions,” said Yesenia Yaber, a two-year Walmart Associate in Chicago, Ill. “These Associates have been speaking out for changes that will help all Associates help our families and make Walmart stores better places for our customers to shop. Yet, Walmart reacts by attempting to silence them. No one wants to strike, we want to work, but we can’t continue under Walmart’s threats and retaliation.”
Workers’ concerns about wages and staffing have been affirmed by newly uncovered company pay-plans exposed by the Huffington Post, poor sales reports and a new study on the retail industry. Huffington Post uncovered what reporters call “a rigid pay structure for hourly employees that makes it difficult for most to rise much beyond poverty-level wages.” Meanwhile, last week’s sales reports show that understaffing, which affects workers’ scheduling and take-home pay, is also having an impact on company sales. Last week’s sales report showed that Walmart’s comp store sales are about half what competitors like Target reported this quarter, continuing a pattern of underperformance by the world’s largest retailer.
“Walmart is doing everything in its power to attempt to silence those who speak out. But nothing—not even this baseless unfair labor practice charge—will stop us from speaking out,” said Colby Harris, a Walmart associate from Lancaster, Texas, in response to Walmart’s frivolous unfair labor charge and the number of charges filed by workers against the company. “Unfair labor is working full time and living in poverty. Unfair labor is seeing your health care premiums skyrocket year after year. Unfair labor is being denied the hours needed to support your family. Unfair labor is being punished for exercising your freedom of speech and association. Walmart workers know what unfair labor is—because we endure it every day. So until Walmart listens to our concerns, we will continue to speak out. We will continue to stand up when Walmart attempts to silence those who speak out. We will continue to demand respect.”
As workers and community supporters call for changes at Walmart, a new report from the national public policy center Demos, shows that better jobs at Walmart and other large retailers would have an impact on our economy. A wage floor equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round employee for retailers with more than 1000 employees would lift 1.5 million retail workers and their families out of poverty or near poverty, add to economic growth, increase retail sales and create over 100,000 new jobs. The findings in the study prove there is a flaw in the conventional thinking by companies like Walmart that profits, low prices and decent wages cannot co-exist.
“Walmart has forgotten about families,” said Larry Gross, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Economic Survival in Los Angeles, Calif. “Thanksgiving day scheduling, poverty paychecks, and unaffordable healthcare are all evidence of Walmart’s disregard for the 1.4 million workers that keep its doors open and shelves stocked. We should expect more from the country’s largest employer.”
Walmart workers have been speaking out about the company’s manipulation of hours and benefits, efforts to try to keep people from working full-time and their discrimination against women and people of color, but rather than listening to the concerns facing 1.4 million Walmart workers, Walmart has attempted to silence them. Some workers have also been speaking out about the early start of Black Friday sales – on Thanksgiving Day –which will keep many retail workers from being able to spend the holiday with their families. Watch a video from Walmart workers on why they’re standing up or follow the conversation on Twitter at #WalmartStrikers.
With so many Americans struggling to make ends meet and Walmart taking in $16 billion in profits and compensating its executives $10 million each, workers and community leaders have been calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address the wage gap the company is creating. At the same time frontline Walmart workers are facing financial hardships, the Walton Family – heirs to the Walmart fortune – are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Countless civil rights, immigrant rights, women’s rights and religious groups, including Color of Change, National Alliance of Latino, African and Caribbean Communities, Interfaith Worker Justice, and the National Organization of Women, are organizing their members in support of Walmart workers. Online, individuals have been adding support and planning protests on their own, starting new Facebook pages, groups and events. Through the Corporate Action Network, activists are “adopting” stores where they can inform shoppers about the struggles that Walmart workers are facing.
In October, OUR Walmart leaders held the first-ever strikes against the mega-retailer. At that time, workers walked off their jobs in more than 12 cities and with the support of national and local leaders, held protests at more than 200 stores. Since then, workers have walked off the job in Richmond, CA and Dallas, TX, and support for OUR Walmart, the associate organization calling for change, has continued to grow.
Striking warehouse workers, who move billions of dollars of merchandise for Walmart, joined the call to speak about the retaliation they have experienced for speaking out against unsafe working conditions, including extreme temperatures, broken and unsafe equipment and inadequate access to clean drinking water. The workers from the Inland Empire, outside of Los Angeles, held a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile pilgrimage for safe jobs in September.
Energy around the calls for Walmart to change its treatment of workers and communities has been building. In just one year, OUR Walmart, the unique workers’ organization founded by Walmart Associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of Associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states. Together, OUR Walmart members have been leading the way in calling for an end to double standards that are hurting workers, communities and our economy.
The alleged Mexican bribery scandal, uncovered by the New York Times, has shined a light on the failure of internal controls within Walmart that extend to significant breaches of compliance in stores and along the company’s supply chain. The company is facing yet another gender discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 100,000 women in California and in Tennessee, and a wage theft class action suit in Chicago. In the company’s warehousing system, in which Walmart has continually denied responsibility for the working conditions for tens of thousands of people who work for warehouses where they move billions of dollars of goods, workers are facing rampant wage theft and health and safety violations so extreme that they have led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines. The Department of Labor fined a Walmart seafood supplier for wage and hour violations, and Human Rights Watch has spoken out about the failures of controls in regulating suppliers overseas, including a seafood supplier in Thailand where trafficking and debt bondage were cited.
Financial investors are also joining the call for Walmart to create better checks and balances, transparency and accountability that will protect workers and communities and strengthen the company. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Bentonville, OUR Walmart member Jackie Goebel brought a stadium full of shareholders to their feet applauding her call for an end to the short staffing that’s hurting workers and customer service. Goebel was one of four Associate-shareholders who proposed a resolution calling for the reining in of executive pay. The resolution received unprecedented support from major pension funds that voted their shares against Walmart CEO and members of the board this June, amounting to a ten-fold increase and overall 1 in 3 shares not held by the Walton family against the company’s leadership.
These widespread problems have also thwarted Walmart’s plans for growth, particularly in urban markets. Calling the company a “bad actor,” New York City mayoral candidates have all been outspoken in their opposition to Walmart entering the city without addressing labor and community relations’ problems. This month, the city’s largest developer announced an agreement with a union-grocery store at a site that Walmart had hoped would be its first location in New York. In Los Angeles, mayoral candidates are refusing to accept campaign donations from the deep pockets of Walmart, and in Boston, Walmart was forced to suspend its expansion into the city after facing significant community opposition.
Making Change at Walmart is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women’s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country.
January 6, 2006
WAKEUPWALMART.COM HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS/ WAL-MART REPORTS WEAK SALES AND TRAFFIC DECLINE FOR DECEMBER
NATIONAL PRINT & TV MEDIA CAMPAIGN ACHIEVE RECORD IMPACT
DURING FIVE-WEEK EFFORT
Washington D.C. – Today, WakeUpWalMart.com proudly announced it had exceeded all of its 2005 goals as part of its unprecedented national holiday campaign during the month of December. WakeUpWalMart.com, which officially launched its five-week 2005 holiday campaign on November 25, 2005, or “”Black Friday,”” set three goals: (1) hold 1000 actions at Wal-Marts in at least 25 states; (2) launch a coordinated multimedia campaign in multiple states; and (3) reach 150,000 supporters. By the end of December, WakeUpWalMart.com exceeded all three of its goals.
“”Again and again, Wal-Mart and Lee Scott thought the American people wouldn’t listen to the truth about their poor business practices. Lee Scott was wrong. Wal-Mart’s poor values matter to consumers, and despite Lee Scott’s claims to the contrary, new public relations initiatives in 2006 are not going to solve Wal-Mart’s growing problem. Lee Scott needs to wake up and listen to the American people’s call for Wal-Mart to change into a responsible corporation,”” said Paul Blank, campaign director for WakeUpWalMart.com.
During the five-week holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com supporters held 1,420 actions at Wal-Marts in over 186 cities and towns in 41 states. Over ten thousand WakeUpWalMart.com supporters took park in the weekly actions. WakeUpWalMart.com also reached its target goal of 150,000 supporters two weeks early, and finished the holiday campaign with over 162,000 supporters on December 31st.
As part of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com also successfully executed the most coordinated national multimedia campaign to change Wal-Mart in corporate history. The on-the-ground actions in conjunction with the paid media amplified our message to millions of Americans. The multimedia campaign included print, TV, and online internet advertising: full-page ads ran in the New York Times, USA Today; internet ads ran on over 19 websites; and, 15-second and 30-second TV spots highlighting Wal-Mart’s exploitative business practices and the company’s moral failures ran in multiple states as well.
In contrast to WakeUpWalMart.com’s success, and despite the most aggressive Holiday marketing campaign in Wal-Mart’s history (including the unprecedented use of celebrities, starting their advertising two weeks early and a new price guarantee), Wal-Mart reported same-store sales at the lower end of expectations, posted its worst December sales in five years, and reported an actual decline in store traffic for December. In addition, Wal-Mart also reported its profit expectations for the quarter would come in at the low end of expectations.
Wal-Mart’s poor performance in December also raises serious doubts about the credibility of Wal-Mart’s earlier statements which downplayed the dramatic impact our holiday campaign was having on the choices American consumers were making this holiday season. In response to the holiday campaign in early December, Wal-Mart posted the following statement on WalMartFacts.com:
“”The union leadership’s campaign is failing. Wal-Mart had its best October ever. And with sales growth of 4.3% in November and 10 million people shopping our stores during the first 6 hours of Black Friday, we expect a good Holiday season and feel good about our profit margins. “”
In fact, Senior Vice President Jay Fitzsimmons was the only Wal-Mart executive to publicly hint that Wal-Mart’s December sales might not be as good as their November sales and he was stripped of half of his job title on December 23rd.
“”The reality is Wal-Mart’s poor policies are impeding Wal-Mart’s progress. On issue after issue, paying a living wage, providing affordable health care, equal pay for equal work, no more child labor violations, Wal-Mart is out-of-step with the American people,”” added Blank.
Following the success of the 2005 holiday campaign, WakeUpWalMart.com is determined to build on our momentum and create an even larger movement and successful campaign to change Wal-Mart in 2006. In just nine months, beginning on April 5th of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com has become one of the fastest growing social movements in America. Over the course of 2005, WakeUpWalMart.com launched over ten mini-campaigns, including “”All I Want for Christmas is Health Care for Mommy,”” “”Black Friday Blitz,”” “”Light a Candle for Change,”” “”Wal-Mart Week,”” “”Nothing’s Scarier than Not Having Health Care,”” “”Send Wal-Mart Back to School,”” “”Make Wal-Mart Care About Health Care,”” “”Stop the Wal-Mart Nazi Ad,”” and “”Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart.””