Thursday, November 13, 2014

Walmart sit-down strike follows strikes today by port truck drivers and federal contract workers

Walmart sit-down strikers today.
Walmart workers in a Crenshaw, Calif., store sat down on the job today, even as striking port truck drivers picketed marine terminals and trucking yards at the Port of L.A. and hundreds of federal government contractors marched off the job and onto a Capitol Hill rally.

Strike fever is spreading among low-wage workers fed-up with poverty, wage theft and retaliation for trying to form a union. The tactic of short, sudden strikes started in New York City several years ago has spread throughout the nation.

The Walmart sit-in is the day's most recent development. The Crenshaw store workers chanted, "Stand up, live better. Sit down, live better!" It is the first sit-down strike in Walmart history. Watch a livestream of the Walmart action here.

Making Change at Walmart tells us:
OUR Walmart members, some of whom were part of the first Walmart strike in October 2012, have just sat down near registers and next to racks of a Walmart store in Crenshaw. The group of striking workers, from stores throughout California, has placed tape over their mouths signifying the company’s illegal efforts to silence workers who are calling for better jobs. Even as the mega-retailer brings in $16 billion in annual profits and Walmart’s owners build on their $150 billion in wealth, the majority of Walmart workers are paid less than $25,000 a year...
To date, workers at more than 2,100 Walmart stores nationwide have signed a petition calling on Walmart and the Waltons to publicly commit to paying $15 an hour and providing consistent, full-time hours. After taking the petition to members of the Walton family, supporters committed to returning to stores on Black Friday if jobs aren’t improved by then.
Striking federal contract workers.
In Washington, D.C., the 10th daylong strike was the largest ever by federal contract workers who toil in government buildings. Hundreds marched up Capitol Hill and held a spirited rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. They carried signs that read, "To Survive, Workers Need $15 and  Union." They rallied in front of the Capitol, led by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Judy Chu and Rep. Keith Ellison. Their message: "We are here to call on the President to do & help workers live the American Dream." Said Ellison, "We know some contractors are good and some are bad. The federal government needs to stop working with the bad ones."
The Teamster-supported port drivers strike.
In Los Angeles, port truck drivers were striking for the fifth time in a year and a half. The drivers walked off the job at Total Transportation Services (TTSI) and Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9).  Drivers at Green Fleet Systems (GFS) agreed to remain in the “cooling off” status because of ongoing talks with the company owners.

A court recently ordered two port drivers to return to work at Green Fleet Systems as employees after they were fired for challenging their misclassification as independent contractors. But since the last strike in July, 35 drivers were fired for refusing to withdraw their wage and hour claims. Drivers have experienced a dramatic increase in wage theft, leaving some drivers owing the company for driving for them.

The port strikes are expected to continue.