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Flash Mob Sings for Respect at Wal-Mart

Shoppers at a Laurel, Md., Wal-Mart yesterday got some unexpected entertainment while Wal-Mart managers got a serious message in the form of a rousing, revamped version of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” from a flash mob and brass band.

Wal-Mart is planning to open four stores in nearby Washington, D.C., but the retailer hasn’t met with community members to talk about standards for respecting workers and the neighborhoods, said D.C. Jobs with Justice (JWJ) and the coalition Respect DC.

Wal-Mart drives down standards and wages, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) President Joe Hansen said yesterday.

When Wal-Mart opens in a community, it regularly displaces existing jobs with poverty-level jobs.

Alan Barber, an associate at the Laurel Wal-Mart, told

When I saw the large crowd, heard the band and the words, I couldn’t believe it. But then to listen to their words—that associates should be respected, too—that really touched me, because we don’t get the respect we deserve at work. Management overworks and underpays us, and then makes things worse by creating a climate of fear so most associates are too afraid to demand better treatment.

JWJ’s Mackenzie Baris said, “Respect isn’t shown by making one-time contributions to buy off the support of D.C. politicians and others.”

It’s shown by always paying your workers enough to lift them out of poverty and by supporting the community and small businesses every day your store is open. We want fair treatment, and that is a binding commitment to do right by D.C.

Click here for more information from Respect DC.

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