Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Teamsters support Walmart Black Friday strikes

Teamsters in Seattle yesterday
Teamsters are out front supporting Walmart worker protests in the run-up to nationwide strikes on Friday, Nov. 29, also known as Black Friday.

Yesterday our Teamster brothers from Local 117 in Seattle protested Walmart's union-busting and poverty wages. They were supporting workers who went out on a one-day strike. Josh Eidelson at Salon reported yesterday:
The one-day strike is the latest in the lead-up to a larger day of strikes and protests planned for Black Friday, the high-profile post-Thanksgiving shopping day at the end of this month. 
“I don’t know if I’ll see it in my lifetime,” Washington Wal-Mart employee Mary Watkines told Salon in a pre-strike interview, but  “I want all of the associates, including myself, to be able to walk into our workplace, you know, this place that they call our family … and not be physically ill, not just feel like you want to throw up or pass out or even just turn around and walk out” over “intimidation and humiliation.” Watkins added, “I want people to be able to live better, you know, like the commercial says … Nobody lives better except for the Waltons now.” 
Today’s strike is the latest by the non-union worker group OUR Walmart, which is closely tied to the United Food & Commercial Workers union.
Just now, the Walmart strikes spread to Chicago, with a rally planned for 4 pm local times.

Last week, at least one and possibly more of our Teamster brothers were arrested in Los Angeles as part of the largest peaceful civil disobedience action against Walmart ever. Several dozen Walmart workers walked off the job Thursday and Friday, the Huffington Post reported:
Surrounded by about 100 police officers in riot gear and a helicopter circling above, more than 50 Walmart workers and supporters were arrested in downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they sat in the street protesting what they called the retailer's "poverty wages." 
...The 54 arrestees, with about 500 protesting Walmart workers, clergy and supporters, demonstrated outside LA's Chinatown Walmart. Those who refused police orders to clear the street after their permit expired were arrested without incident. Those who fail to post $5,000 bail would be jailed overnight, Detective Gus Villanueva, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman, told The Huffington Post... 
Their primary demand to Walmart: pay every full-time worker at least $25,000 a year.
One of the protesting Walmart workers, Anthony Goytia, a 31-year-old father of two, said he believes he will make about $12,000 this year. It's a daily struggle, he said, "to make sure my family doesn't go hungry." 
"The power went out at my house yesterday because I couldn't afford the bill," Goytia told HuffPost. "I had to run around and get two payday loans to pay for my rent from the first" of the month. "Yesterday we went to a food bank." 
A large, national strike is planned against Walmart on Black Friday, and Teamsters are encouraged to join in actions supporting the workers. It's very easy to find out what's going on near you. Just click on the website and type your zip code in the giant box.