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Walmart Retaliates – Workers Step Up Organizing

Chuck Parker  |  Issue: January 2015
Walmart protests

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—Walmart workers step up organizing against reprisals from Walmart for fighting for $15 an hour. They staged actions in and outside of the Walmart stores.
Bottom-left photo – Graciela Blancas who was fired in October was one of the workers protesting.
PHOTOS: Chuck Parker

 

During September and October Walmart retaliated against several workers who have been playing a leading role in their efforts to win $15 an hour and full-time schedules — by firing them. Three workers at the Crenshaw store in Los Angeles were terminated in late September, and Graciela Blancas at the store in La Quinta, Calif. lost her job on October 16. To the accusations of management that she had broken three of the company’s rules, she replied simply, “Show me the proof.”

At first, many workers were shocked and scared by the retaliations, but they later gained greater courage and determination and launched a wave of actions that began with a caravan from California to the Phoenix home of Rob Walton where they delivered petitions with 2,100 signatures that had been gathered from all over the country.

November 13 brought two historic sit-down strikes (SDs) inside two Los Angeles stores – Crenshaw and Pico Rivera — while other employees and community supporters staged a civil disobedience(CD) blocking the intersection outside one of the stores. The employees who sat down inside the stores wore green duct tape over their mouths with the word “STRIKE” written on it to protest how Walmart fires workers who speak out. Outside in the street they spread a large map of the U.S. with, “$15 an hour” written in various places and marked by candles. These strikers, including three workers from northern California, participated in “walk backs” where they returned to work accompanied by community supporters. Some faced immediate retaliation in the form of radically altered work schedules. But with the help of their community support, these retaliations have been reversed.

To learn more and see pictures, go to OrganizationUnitedForRespect on Facebook. For videos of the sit-in go to BlackFridayProtests.org.

Actions at 1,600 stores nationwide were planned for the Thanksgiving weekend, including the most infamous shopping day of the year – Black Friday. The theme was: Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) Strikes to STOP RETALIATION.

The Our Walmart organization is now linked up with the FIGHT FOR 15 MOVEMENT and the ongoing strike by truck drivers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. In addition they are part of a movement that staged a GLOBAL DAY FOR DECENT WORK AT WALMART in 17 countries on November 19. Graciela and others from California joined workers from all over the United States who flew to Miami to participate in the action there that linked up with the actions in 17 countries. To learn more visit UNIGlobalUnionAlliance@Walmart on Facebook.

Please lend your support to these courageous workers. In the words of the famous labor song: “LIKE A TREE STANDING BY THE WATER, WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED.”

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