November 26, 2012
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher
Walmart workers across the country took a bold step on Friday November 23, 2012. Many walked off the job on the busiest shopping day of the year. Walmart employees in over 100 U.S. cities demonstrated against the unfair practices of this mega-chain.
Hundreds protested against WalMart in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood as well as Chicago’s Loop and on the Magnificent Mile.
In a protest in Paramount California, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said about 1,000 people participated in the Paramount protests. In Landover Hills, near Washington D.C. organizers said about 350 people participated. Other demonstrations occurred in Miami, Dallas, Wisconsin, the Bay Area, and Long Island New York. Low wages, lack of benefits and a pattern of retaliation against employees who attempt to organize are some of the concerns of workers.
“Walmart has spent the last 50 years pushing its way on workers and communities,” said Mary Pat Tifft, an OUR Walmart member and 24-year associate who led a protest on Thursday evening in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “In just one year, leaders of OUR Walmart and Warehouse Workers United have begun to prove that change is coming to the world’s largest employer.”
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.”
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. Violations for wage theft and safety violations have led to an unprecedented $600,000 in fines.