The strikers are now at the company's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, after traveling on six buses from all over the country. They were inspired by the 1961 freedom rides of civil rights activists.
Today they marched through the City of Bentonville, prayed and sang hymns in front of the original store as part of a week of actions against the company. Tomorrow, they will rally during the company's annual shareholders meeting.
Strikers are asking for community support as Wal-Mart tries to prevent them from being heard. Wal-Mart is publicly dismissing the strikers as "paid agents" and using the usual nasty union-busting tactics, the Wall Street Journal reports. On Monday, the company filed for a restraining order against them. Ned Resnikoff at MSNBC reports,
... if those protesters decide to enter any Walmarts in Arkansas, they’d better be planning on buying something; thanks to a ruling by the state’s Benton County Circuit Court, members of the labor group OUR Walmart and the labor union UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) are forbidden from doing anything on Walmart property other than shopping.
Striking Walmart employees will still be allowed to picket under the terms of the restraining order [PDF] approved by Judge John Scott on Monday. But OUR Walmart, UFCW, and “all other persons or entities who act in concert with them” are prohibited from joining the workers. While the order doesn’t get more specific than that, such a broad classification could include national coalition partners such as American Rights At Work (ARAW), local grassroots organizations, laid-off Walmart employees, and employees of Walmart contractors.
|Wal-Mart strikers today in Bentonville.|
The UFCW's Making Change at Wal-Mart campaign is reaching out to clergy, community leaders, local unions, Jobs with Justice and Wal-Mart shoppers to leaflet local Wal-Mart stores tomorrow. One handbill is designed to be given to associates. It says:
Because of you, Walmart is incredibly successful. In fact, Walmart CEO Mike Duke made $20.7 million last year. That’s more than 1000x what the average Walmart associate makes. We know Walmart can do better for its associates.
That’s why this week, the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) associates from around the country are in Bentonville, AR standing together and protesting Walmart’s attempts to silence and retaliations against those who speak out.
While in Bentonville your fellow coworkers will stand-up on June 7th at the annual shareholders meeting to urge Walmart to stop the retaliation and attempts to silence those who speak out for Walmart to publicly commit to better working conditions such as increasing flexibility and availability of hours in scheduling, respect for the individual, and increasing the pay for every associate to at least $25,000 per year.Allies are also being asked to hand fliers to store managers and to the general public tomorrow. At least 50 actions are listed on the Corporate Action Network's website, where you can find one or post your own. Or find out how you can help in other ways here.
Below is a video of yesterday's action in front of Wal-Mart's home office: