Yesterday in Los Angeles, in a historic step for the US labor movement, nearly 100 Walmart workers went on strike in Los Angeles. For more than a year, Walmart workers have been coming together from across the country through the worker-led organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) to make change at Walmart. They have been calling on the company to address issues with understaffing, scheduling, benefits, wages and, above all, a basic sense of respect in the workplace. Watch video from the strike action here.
Rather than being responsive, Walmart responded in its typical fashion. The company lashed out at workers, retaliating against those who bravely spoke out. Workers report that the company has used intimidation tactics such as unfair disciplinary actions, cut backs in hours and even firings. These illegal attempts to silence those who speak out drove workers to strike in protest.
Walmart worker and OUR Walmart member Venanzi Luna:
Even though I’m working hard to juggle my job, a tight budget and caring for my sick father, I know that I have to do something to stop Walmart from bullying us when we practice our freedom of speech. We all know how Walmart has dealt with these issues in the past.
The OUR Walmart strike in Southern Califorina is just one example of the growing frustration amongst workers throughout Walmart’s global supply chain. On September 13th, the warehouse workers who move Walmart’s goods in Ontario, California went on strike and held a 50-mile march for safe jobs. Shortly thereafter, they were joined in their strike by a set of Walmart distribution center workers in Illinois. Earlier this week, community supporters and clergy held a peaceful protest in support of the striking distribution center workers. Walmart responded by sending police dressed in full riot gear to arrest them. This all comes just after guest workers in Walmart’s supply chain revealed forced labor in Louisiana.
While workers walk the picket line in front of Walmart, UNI Global, a global network of more than 900 unions and 15 million members, is simultaneously hosting an international conference of Walmart workers to discuss how issues with the company can be addressed on a global scale.
Collectively, these events demonstrate that workers’ frustrations with Walmart are reaching their boiling point. The company must change how it does business or face the consequences of the growing frustration of its workers. Click here to show your support workers fighting for respect at Walmart.