For the first time in history, Wal-Mart workers have gone on strike. Workers participating in the one-day strike at several Southern California stores say they are striking to protest attempts by Wal-Mart 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.
While the striking workers are not union members, they have joined together in OUR Wal-Mart, a worker-led organization that stands up to make change in its company.
Josh Eidelson at Salon.com reports:
The strikers are taking a risk. With certain exceptions, courts have found that U.S. law prohibits disciplining non-union workers who go on strike in an effort to improve their working conditions. “The bottom line,” former NLRB Chairwoman Wilma Liebman said yesterday, “is non-union people, as well as unionized people, have a right to concertedly walk off the job in protest.”…But Wal-Mart strikers said yesterday that they expect the company will seek ways to punish them anyway.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) President Joe Hansen says the union stands:
Shoulder to shoulder with these courageous associates who are taking action to demand that Wal-Mart workers can, and should, be able to speak out for real change without fear of retaliation.
The Wal-Mart strikers and hundreds of supporters from the unions of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor also rallied at a Pico Rivera Wal-Mart. See the tweets below:
"This is a justice issue. This is a civil rights issue because civil rights and labor rights are the same!"-Rev Eric Lee#walmartstrikers— L.A. Labor, AFL-CIO (@LALabor) October 4, 2012
Today’s action follows a 15-day strike by workers at a Riverside County, Calif., Wal-Mart warehouse and distribution center with unsafe and dangerous working conditions. Also, since mid-September, another group of nonunion workers at a warehouse and distribution center in Ellwood, Ill., remain on strike over the same type of conditions.