Walmart workers are not done striking. Today in just the second time in Walmart history, the mega retailer’s workers are walking out of work to protest their treatment on the job, Salon reported. In Laurel, Maryland and Dallas, Texas, Walmart workers are following up on a worker walkout that took place last Thursday, when Los Angeles area workers took to the streets to protest what they say are Walmart’s intimidation tactics blocking their organizing efforts.
Walmart workers are shining a light on their plight ahead of the company’s annual investor meeting tomorrow in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart wages aren’t enough to cover the basics like rent, or health care premiums, or even lunch, workers say, and some have been forced to turn to public assistance to make ends meet. From Salon:
“A lot of associates, we have to use somewhat of a buddy system,” Dallas worker Colby Harris said last night. “We loan each other money during non-paycheck weeks just to make it through to the next week when we get paid. Because we don’t have enough money after paying bills to even eat lunch.” Harris, who’s now on strike, said that after three years at Walmart, he makes $8.90 an hour in the produce department, and workers at his store have faced “constant retaliation” for speaking up.
Dorian Warren, professor at Columbia University and board member of the Applied Research Center, which publishes Colorlines.com, called the walkouts a pivotal moment in Walmart workers’ efforts to organize the staunchly union-free corporation.
Before these work stoppages, “the other stuff had been so predictable from Walmart’s point of view,” Columbia University political scientist Dorian Warren said yesterday. They’ve always had activists coming to Bentonville. They’ve never had a disruption in their supply chain.” Warren, who’s co-writing a book on Walmart, said the strikes by warehouse workers and store employees are a game-changer: “There was ‘Before,’ and there was ‘After,’ and we just crossed that line.”
OUR Walmart, the national Walmart worker organization active in 43 states and backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, has promised more actions ahead.