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Walmart Workers Continue Demand for Change

Wal-Mart workers protest in Bentonville. Photo via TwitPic

Workers at Walmart are continuing their actions to win respect and bring change to Walmart, with a demonstration today outside Walmart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters and with strikes yesterday by workers at stores in Dallas; Seattle; Miami; Sacramento, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; and in the Chicago and Washington areas.

Colby Harris, who earns $8.90 an hour after three years working at a Walmart in Lancaster, Texas, told The New York Times:

We’re protesting because we want better working conditions and better wages and because we want them to stop retaliating against associates who exercise their right to talk about what’s going on in their stores.

Some 200 Walmart workers, mostly members of OUR Walmart, a worker-led organization, are at the company’s annual investor meeting today calling on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address take home pay so low that workers are forced to rely on public programs to support their families. They're also calling on Walmart to address understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service.

Some employees say the company has not only refused to address these concerns that are affecting 1.4 million workers across the country, but it has attempted to silence those who speak out and has retaliated against workers for raising concerns that would help the company, workers and the community. If Wal-Mart does not  address the workers' concerns Our Walmart activists say they will strike on the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

The Walmart actions began last week in Southern California where, for the first time in history, Walmart workers struck. The one-day strike at several stores coincided with the announcement by the global union federation UNI of the Walmart Global Alliance.

UNI Head of Commerce Alke Boessiger told Salon.com’s Josh Eidelson that the new global alliance will coordinate “joint actions” in the coming months.

Eidelson writes:

Boessiger emphasized that while many countries have laws that are more pro-union than the U.S., "Walmart will do anything to avoid unions" anywhere. She added that Walmart workers abroad understand that supporting U.S. workers is necessary for the sake of “making sure that this model that the company has developed in the U.S. is not being exported.” Could those joint actions include multi-country strikes? “I wouldn’t exclude it,” she said.       

You can show your support for these workers by signing this solidarity letter. You also can get breaking news on the work stoppages on Twitter at @ChangeWalmart and @UFCW using #walmartstrikers.

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