October, 2011

Walmart Workers Visit Occupy Wall Street: “We Are the 99%”

Two Brave Walmart Associates Lead OWS Protestors in March on Walmart’s NYC HQ to Demand Promised Pay

Crowd Tells World’s Richest Retailer It Must Keep the Promises it Made in Other Cities Before It’s Welcome in NYC

New York– Walmart workers came to Liberty Park today to speak to Occupy Wall Street protesters about their campaign to win fair wages and working conditions for Walmart’s 2.1 million associates worldwide.

“We’re here today to let the people at Occupy Wall Street know that Walmart’s associates stand with them, we are the 99%” said Walmart worker Girshriela Green. “For too long Walmart has pushed its associates around and its time we got the dignity and respect we deserve.”

The workers are helping to build grassroots support for Walmart Free NYC’s campaign to hold Walmart accountable for their past statements and promises- promises the richest retailer in the world has broken time and again broken in urban expansion markets similar to New York City, according to a new report released by Making Change at Walmart.

The report, which can be found here, explains that:

  • Walmart promised an African-American community leader that workers at one Los Angeles store  would be making $13 an hour, but workers report that in reality many make less
  • Academics estimated that if consumers paid an additional .46 cents per shopping trip, it would allow Walmart to offer a minimum wage of $12 an hour
  • Walmart associates often delay or forgo medical care altogether because they can’t get the time off or can’t afford the treatment
  • 65% of all Walmart associates in 2001 were women, yet they made up only 33% of salaried management

“Walmart’s glitzy and expensive PR campaign won’t tell New York that they promised Los Angeles jobs and then never delivered, or that they promised higher wages than fell way short. We need to hold Walmart accountable, and that is what we are doing today,” said Stephanie Yazgi, Director of Walmart Free NYC. “We need Walmart to be held accountable for their past promises and need them to finally treat their workers with respect.”

After speaking to the people gathered at Zuccotti Park, the workers and Occupy Wall Street protestors marched on Walmart’s New York City Headquarters to demand the company keep its promises to workers in other cities before it’s allowed in to New York City.

In addition, the Walmart workers also met with key stakeholders in New York City to discuss Walmart’s many labor related issues and why the retail giant needs to be reformed. The workers are from a worker organized organization called OUR Walmart: Organization United for Respect at Walmart that stands up for their rights.

The workers

Girshriela Green: Girshriela Green is flying across the country tomorrow to tell New Yorkers about her experience working for the world’s richest retailer in Los Angeles- where her working-class community was courted by Walmart’s promises of hundreds of good jobs, much like East New Yorkers are now—but those promises failed to materialize. Girshriela was hired as a sales floor associate making $8.20 / hour. After three promotions, she makes $9.80 an hour, far less than the $13 an hour Walmart executives promised an African-American community leader in LA, and now, in New York.

Kenny James:  Kenny James is a former Walmart Support Manager from Renton, Washington. Kenny was on the management track, but chose to step down when he was told that in order to move up into higher management, he had to treat associates more poorly. Kenny has for several years tried to make Walmart a better place to work by educating associates, addressing unfair policies and challenging Walmart to do right by its associates. Kenny is a leader in Organization United for Respect at Walmart and is hopeful for the future of equality, respect and fairness at Walmart.

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