(Oct. 11) — On Wednesday morning, community leaders from across the nation stood up and called for a change at Walmart. Their actions are in support of Walmart associates who walked off the job Tuesday in response to illegal retaliation and attempts to silence associates who are speaking out for better jobs. Workers from western Washington were among those who joined in on the walkout and rallied at the Bentonville, Ark., shareholders meeting of Walmart on Wednesday.
Early Wednesday, four national leaders — Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League; Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization of Women; Pastor Edwin Jones, Living Faith Baptist Church and International Ministries; and Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement — joined together in a national media conference calling on Walmart to change.
Last week, Walmart associates in Los Angeles walked off the job calling for an end to the retaliation. Workers at Walmart controlled warehouses in Chicago had been on a 21-day strike against retaliation. This week, workers in other areas including western Washington joined in a walkout.
In 2012, Walmart’s announcement of a desire to expand into urban markets in the Puget Sound area have been met by protests and often negative media coverage. Concerns about how Walmart treats workers and its negative impacts on the local community and the local economy have been raised at the same time as the company is raking in nearly $16 billion a year in profits and executives made more than $10 million each in compensation last year. Meanwhile, the Walton Family — heirs to the Walmart fortune — are the richest family in the country with more wealth than the bottom 42% of American families combined.
Wednesday’s actions are part of a growing and vocal concern about how Walmart needs to change. In the past year, OUR Walmart, the workers’ organization founded by Walmart associates, has grown from a group of 100 Walmart workers to an army of thousands of associates in hundreds of stores across 43 states.
Local support for the Walmart workers walkout occurred Wednesday at Walmart stores in Arlington, Auburn, Bellevue, Bremerton, Covington, Federal Way, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Marysville, Port Orchard, Poulsbo, and Renton.