Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Prolonged strike against Wal-Mart starts today in MA, CA, FL

Wal-Mart strikers in Massachusetts.
Today at least 100 Wal-Mart workers began a prolonged strike in three states, an action that follows one-day strikes in October and on Black Friday.

They will emulate the 1961 Civil Rights freedom riders and board buses to the retailer's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The buses will stop dozens of cities to pick up supporters on the way to protest Wal-Mart's annual shareholder meeting.

@MsFlowersTweets tells us one bus carrying freedom riders has left from Miami.
#WalmartStrikers have embarked on their leg of their #FreedomRide from Miami. Help me wish @hanson_alan and the crew peace & power. #p2 #1u
Strikers walked off the job in Massachusetts and the California Bay Area. Buses are also expected to leave from Washington, D.C., Chicago, Seattle and Southern California. At least 30 direct actions are planned to show support for the latter-day freedom riders. (Click here to find one or organize one yourself.)

Josh Eidelson at The Nation reports,
The union-backed labor group OUR Walmart says that at least a hundred workers have pledged to join the strikes, and that some workers walking off the job today will stay out at least through June 7, when Walmart holds its annual shareholder meeting near Bentonville, Arkansas. 
Organizers expect retail employees in more cities to join the work stoppage, which follows the country’s first-ever coordinated Walmart store strikes last October, and a high-profile Black Friday walkout November 23. Like Black Friday’s, today’s strike is being framed by the union-backed labor group OUR Walmart as a response to retaliation against worker-activists...
That “Ride for Respect” will bring workers to about thirty cities, including Los Angeles, D.C., Chicago, and Cincinnati, where they’ll meet supporters and visit Walmart stores before continuing to Arkansas. Schlademan called the caravans “a massive education program meant to educate Walmart workers and communities about the issues of Walmart.”
Bloomberg interviewed some of the striking workers:
“This is the first time in my life I’m standing up for something I know is right,” says Barbara Getz, who is 45 years old and makes $10 an hour as an overnight stocker in Store No. 5334 in Aurora, Colo. “Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, and we want them to set a high standard.” Among the group’s requests: full-time work for those who want it, with a minimum yearly salary of $25,000. 
Dominic Ware will be on a bus, too. He’s a 26-year-old part-time employee at Store No. 5434 in San Leandro, Calif. He makes $8.65 an hour. “My plan is to make a lot of noise and be direct and be respectful,” he says.
Workers have also walked out on Wal-Mart suppliers. In July, eight immigrant guest workers walked out on a Louisiana seafood supplier that had basically enslaved them. In September, workers at warehouses subcontracted by Wal-Mart struck for several weeks in Southern California and in Greater Chicago.