Just a year ago Walmart workers were involved in forming the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), but since then many of those workers have experienced retaliation and even firings. CLUW hosted a brown bag lunch on August 8th at the National AFL-CIO Headquarters in Washington, DC for a dialogue with Angela Williamson and Wessa Milien, both from Florida and members of OUR Walmart who have been outspoken about the need for respect in the workplace and were terminated by the company this summer.
Sharing their stories with the labor and women’s communities was one way to build support.
As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart has enormous power to set trends for the economy as a whole. Walmart shapes the way we work and live. Even though women make up the majority of the Walmart global workforce they are not paid equal to their male counterparts and are grossly underrepresented in management positions.
At the same time that the Walton family (who own half of Walmart) have the same wealth as the bottom 42% of American families, Walmart pays its associates an average of $8.81 an hour. That means even full-time workers at Walmart only make an average of just $15,500 a year.
On August 8th in Washington, DC Angela and Wessa spoke about their experience as Walmart Associates and how their initial enthusiasm as employees quickly turned sour. They gave examples of work hours being reduced, schedules changed without notice and Walmart demanding that workers donate an hour of work off the clock. They described retaliation experienced when a worker takes sick leave for legitimate illness and the low salaries they receive that make paying for their own health insurance impossible. They talked about the intimidation and fear that so many workers experience when they become Walmart Associates. However, OUR Walmart members like Wessa and Angela are touring the country to meet with Walmart Associates and to tell their stories to the broader community to expose the real Walmart and to find support.
The Coalition of Labor Union Women encourages our members and friends to learn more and get involved.
Please see the latest Monthly Update for Allies for more information.
Angela Williamson and Wessa Milien at Women at Walmart Meeting in Washington, DC