Walmart warehouse workers in Mira Loma, Calif., launched a strike Wednesday morning to protest management retaliation against the workers over their September strike, speaking out about unsafe working conditions. Meanwhile, Walmart store workers around the country are making plans to spotlight Walmart’s abuse with a Black Friday/Thursday walkout.
The workers at the Mira Loma warehouse are employed by a Walmart subcontractor, Warestaff, but worker leader Raymond Castillo told The Nation’s Josh Eidelson because Walmart is the beneficiary of all of his work, and the boss of his boss’ boss, the unsafe conditions the workers say they face are Walmart’s fault. He writes:
Castillo said he expects that some retail workers will join his co-workers’ strike Thursday, making it the latest case of joint action at multiple points in Walmart’s supply chain. He described the coming strike as part of the progression toward Black Friday: “We were the ones that started it, and now they want to kick it off with us starting it again, and make it a big old trend.”
In October, Walmart workers across the nation engaged in several short strikes and actions to protest attempts by Walmart to silence and retaliate against associates who speak out about working conditions, low-pay, lack of respect and other issues that plague workers at the notorious anti-union retail giant.
Since then, workers say they have faced harassment and retaliation, including reduced hours and lost jobs. To highlight Walmart’s continued effort to silence them, Walmart workers around the country will walk off the job Nov. 23 on the biggest shopping day of the year, formerly known as Black Friday but now, with Walmart and other retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening, it has morphed into Black Thursday.
Last week, when Walmart announced it would open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, Mary Pat Tifft , who has worked at Walmart in Kenosha, Wis., for 24 years and is one of the many workers scheduled to work during the Thanksgiving holiday, said:
I see the disappointment in the eyes of my co-workers, especially those with young kids, who aren’t going to be able to share the holiday with their families. This early opening is one more example of Walmart’s disconnect with the workers who keep its stores running and disregard for all of our families.
In Seattle, where workers from several Walmart stores plan preview protests this Thursday, Venanzi Luna told The Stand’s David Groves:
My co-workers and I have been speaking out for change. Instead of Walmart working with us to improve working conditions and customer service, Walmart has retaliated against us for speaking out. Without an end to the retaliation, Walmart workers across the country will be walking off the job on Black Friday. Join us in solidarity with our strike.
Luna, like the other Walmart worker activists, is not a union member, but he and the activists have joined together in OUR Walmart, a worker-led organization that stands up to make change in its company. Find out more at http://forrespect.org and http://MakingChangeAtWalmart.org.