Already in his brief twenty some years, Brandon Garrett has had to make tough choices.
From Baton Rouge, LA, Brandon grew up with a single mom. She raised him to be a hard worker. In high school, Brandon excelled in sports. He did well in his classes and participated in football, basketball, wrestling, track and field and bowling. By the time Brandon graduated, he was a strong enough athlete to play collegiate sports.
While in school, Brandon’s mother fell ill. She was unable to work to support herself. Brandon had a tough choice to make. He left college and moved back home to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to help support his mom through her illness. He found a job working at Walmart in Baker.
It wasn’t long after he started that he discovered just how difficult it was to get by on Walmart wages. Worse yet, the management treated its employees with disrespect. His store was constantly understaffed and employees were always overworked and treated with no regard for them as human beings.
One vocal worker in his store, an older woman named Janet Sparks, was part of a group called Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). Through the worker-led organization, she had taken a number of actions and helped many of her coworkers. After some consideration and looking into the organization, Brandon decided to join the movement to change Walmart.
He bravely went on strike, traveling across the country by bus to visit Walmart’s headquarters to protest Walmart’s illegal attempts to silence and intimidate workers who stood up for their right to speak out.
After he returned to work from the legally protected strike, Walmart called him into the office. Management told Brandon that he was being fired for absences during the time he was on strike.
On August 22nd, Brandon joined a group of ten current or recently fired Walmart workers who came together in Washington, DC. After holding a sit-in for hours in front of Walmart’s downtown office and refusing to leave, they were arrested for their peaceful act of civil disobedience.
This dramatic action came just a month after Walmart illegally fired or disciplined more than 70 workers, including Brandon, for going out on strike. After the arrests, workers announced that they were drawing a line in the sand. If Walmart failed to reinstate the unjustly fired workers and publicly commit to pay a real wage by Labor Day, the company would see intensified actions nationwide.
Labor Day came and went. Walmart remained silent.
Workers and community members are mobilizing in cities across the country and say they will take action tomorrow in some of the most dramatic protests Walmart has seen yet. You can join workers at events nationwide by searching for an event near you here.
You can also sign thier petition calling on Walmart to return Brandon and other illegally fired workers back to work. And you can express your support on Twitter by tagging #WalmartStrikers.