Above: Nawal Elmilliax joins the protest against Wal-Mart in Boynton Beach, Fla., Friday, Nov 23, 2012. Wal-Mart employees and union supporters are taking part in today’s nationwide demonstration for better pay and benefits A union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers, was staging the demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores on Black Friday, the day when retailers traditionally turn a profit for the year. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Low wages hurt all of us. Nont only are low wages unfair, but when Walmart doesn’t pay a living wage taxpayers provide healthcare, food and housing assistance. Walmart drives wages down and undermines the tax base. Join Walmart worker strikes on Black Friday.
For information on Black Friday protests visit http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/ and http://forrespect.org/
If you still need to be convinced this is a good idea, read what Robert Reich wrote last year about the action to understand why strikes are actually good for the economy. Yes, a very good thing is about to happen.
One of the strikers we are currently supporting sent the following to explain why he is dedicated to pushing through for dignity and respect in his workplace:
“I’ve been living and working southwest of a large Midwestern city. Nearly every available job opportunity at all the temp agencies I applied to were within the warehousing industry and – with the holiday season approaching – one of the first jobs available was at the Walmart warehouse loading and unloading freight. Working in a warehouse doing hard manual labor for $10 an hour with no steady hours puts workers in a precarious situation – basic living expenses such as rent & utilities, gas, food, car maintenance pile up and my co-workers and I never know how many hours we’re going to get on our next shift. Sometimes I’ll get a call the night before telling me the department I work in has been shut down for the entire weekend. Breathing in the air in the dusty trailers made me sick with congestion after each shift. You can only do back-breaking work with no health insurance for so long, which is why the companies are often able to get away with it – the staffing companies at the warehouses treat their employees like they’re disposable and when one employee can’t take it any more, they find someone else to take his or her place.
These circumstances are exactly why we needed to organize our co-workers and fight back to win improvements. People move from job to job at warehouses in the area with no benefits and no security is no way to make a living. We started a petition and asked our co-workers to sign it demanding basic improvements with respect to our working conditions: job security, respect, consistent work schedules, safety improvements, and an end to discrimination and retaliation. We delivered the petition and faced retaliation.
We need support to be able to take these kinds of risks if we’re going to make any changes. We can’t continue this race to the bottom and continuing to organize for improvements now will show people that you can fight back and win at work, leading the way for unionization. But unionization isn’t the end goal. Even with a union, it is important to continue to engage members, push for a more democratic union, and hold the elected leaders accountable to the interests of the members. An organized workforce in WalMart paves the way for raising industry standards in retail and warehousing, but that doesn’t mean we want to see more Walmarts in neighborhoods in every city and town in the country just to have an organized workforce.
I don’t want to win further environmental and economic degradation through unionization of the world’s largest employer and the potential push by a union with the intention of growing membership through the company’s expansion. I do want to win through an organized workforce, the opportunity to have protection against the employer’s intimidation and retaliation that we are currently experiencing and an adequate recourse of action. Looking beyond the shop floor, a unionized and organized workforce also holds potential to improve standards in other countries – from baggers working exclusively for tips at Walmart retail stores in Mexico to the conditions of the factories in China.
Organizing within our globalized economy holds huge potential for improving the lives of millions of people across the globe, but this opportunity must be taken with the right intentions.”
Here’s some tools to help at this site for ideas.
And, you can buy a “Team: Walmart Strikers” shirt here.