With the back-to-school craze just around the corner, students are gearing for the Fall with fresh notebooks, pens, and backpacks. We’re also gearing up to continue standing in solidarity with the Associates greeting customers at our local Walmart stores, as well as the overseas workers as far as Bangladesh sewing apparel to be sold on Walmart’s shelves, who are all fighting for respect and just working conditions at Walmart stores and in their supply chain.
Walmart has 2.1 million associates around the world, and 1.4 million of of them are here in the United States, making them the largest employer in the country by more than a million (the second largest employer is the U.S. Postal Service, with 300,000 employees). In all but one of the 15 countries where Walmart operates stores, associates have union representation, but here in the United States, there is not a single store where workers can collectively bargain over their conditions at work.
Walmart is known as one of the most notorious and aggressively anti-union companies in the world, running campaigns 365 days a year to “educate” (read: intimidate) workers about why they should never try to come together and organize collectively for better working conditions for all employees. Despite Walmart’s fear campaign, this June, nearly one hundred Walmart Associates traveled from stores all around the country to convene in Bentonville, Arkansas to the doors of Walmart’s headquarters. These Associates delivered their Declaration of Respect, which they drafted together as the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). These workers have come together to address the common issues they face and to work together to improve their careers, their lives, and their company by asking for something so inherent and simple, but that is missing at Walmart–respect.
Considering the ridiculous kind of tactics that employers can legally employ to intimidate workers, like this awful video shown to Target employees, and the fact that 75% of employers spend oodles of money to hire anti-union consultants during organizing campaigns, part of a billion dollar industry of suited-up professionals whose one job is to keep a union out at any cost, it is moving and exciting to see workers at the biggest employer in the world organizing outside our broken system to demand dignity and respect at work.
Meanwhile, there are fights in major cities, from Seattle to Boston, where community members are also demanding respect from Walmart! Check out this flashmob organized by the Respect DC Coalition (featuring some awesome USASers!), demanding Walmart come to the table with our communities and negotiate agreements that will best serve our neighborhoods and families before moving in.
Check out the rest of the photos taken by USASer Marcos Perez at Friday’s action at Walmart’s hidden lobbying office in DC, which was part of the Jobs with Justice National Conference!