Walmart warehouse workers have been staging strikes, now workers at some stores are joining in.
This morning in Pico Rivera, California, Walmart workers staged a one-day work stoppage, saying there has been retaliation against them for trying to organize a union.
At Salon, Josh Eidelson has more, in Walmart workers on strike,
Today, for the first time in Walmart’s fifty-year history, workers at multiple stores are out on strike. Minutes ago, dozens of workers at Southern California stores launched a one-day work stoppage in protest of alleged retaliation against their attempts to organize. In a few hours, they’ll join supporters for a mass rally outside a Pico Rivera, CA store. This is the latest – and most dramatic – of the recent escalations in the decades-long struggle between organized labor and the largest private employer in the world.
Eidelson also reported on other Walmart worker actions taking place,
… it’s only the latest in a series of strikes in the Walmart supply chain, all by non-union workers. As I’ve reported, eight guest workers at C.J.’s seafood in Louisiana walked off the job in June, alleging violent threats and forced labor. After initially saying it had investigated the workers’ claims and couldn’t substantiate them, Walmart suspended C.J.’s.
Then, the second week of September, warehouse workers who move Walmart goods went on strike in Mira Loma, California and – three days later – in Elwood, Illinois. Both groups of workers – about 65 total – alleged that management had retaliated against employees for protesting abusive conditions. The west coast warehouse workers struck for fifteen days, and joined a fifty-mile march to Los Angeles, before returning to work September 28th. Their Midwest counterparts are still on strike. On Monday, they were joined by supporters – and police in riot gear – for a 600-person rally at which 17 people were arrested for non-violently blocked the entrance to the major Walmart distribution hub.
Labor Notes has more. Micah Uetricht reports in, Strike Supporters Shut Down Illinois Walmart Warehouse,
Six hundred supporters of striking Walmart warehouse workers in Elwood, Illinois, ratcheted up the pressure Monday with a huge march and civil disobedience that shut down the most important node in the company’s American distribution network. Workers estimate that shutting down the facility cost the company several million dollars.
The goal was to shine light on an enormous but hidden workforce of warehouse employees toiling to move Walmart’s famously cheap products throughout the country. Community and labor supporters from the Chicago area joined the 30 strikers, who walked off the job in an unfair labor practice strike September 15. They are members of the Warehouse Workers Organizing Committee.
[. . .] Workers and supporters rallied at a park near the warehouse, with a wide swath of unions and community groups present, including the Chicago Teachers Union, Steelworkers, Service Employees, Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Workers United, Action Now, Arise Chicago, Latino Union, Stand Up! Chicago, Jobs with Justice, ROC Chicago, and the Chicago Workers Collaborative.
At the rally—surely the largest in Elwood history—workers told of backbreaking work for little pay, temperatures that oscillate between sweltering heat and bitter cold, management retaliation, and gender discrimination.
California Warehouse Strike
From Uetricht at Labor Notes,
In Southern California, three dozen non-union temporary workers at a Walmart warehouse ended their 15-day strike and returned to their jobs last Thursday.
The workers, whose direct employer is Walmart contractor NFI, marched with supporters 50 miles to downtown Los Angeles September 13-18, calling on Walmart to take responsibility for appalling safety conditions in its warehouses. Like the Illinois workers, they had suffered retaliation for their organizing efforts, and their strike was an unfair labor practices strike (NFI was thus legally obligated to permit them to return). They are connected to the Warehouse Workers United worker center, an affiliate of the Change to Win federation.
Back on the job, workers report that supervisors are no longer requiring them to work with broken ramps, which had forced workers to manually lift 500 lbs.
Naperville Sun, Rally for striking Walmart workers ends in arrests, chants,
Police dressed in riot gear arrested 17 peaceful protesters Monday as they sat in the middle of Centerpoint Drive blocking the Walmart warehouse entrance.
The group, which was surrounded by hundreds of fellow protesters, sang “We Shall Overcome” as they were handcuffed and walked to a police transport unit.
The sit-in was part of a rally to support striking warehouse workers who walked off the job Sept. 15 to protest unfair labor practices at the massive warehouse. About 38 workers who joined the strike are picketing the warehouse every morning.
[. . .] The protest was an escalation of three years of work by WWJ to improve conditions for warehouse workers in Will County, which with its two intermodals has become the largest inland port in North America in recent years.
The group has helped workers file 11 lawsuits against the companies that own, manage or staff warehouses. Six of the lawsuits are against companies hired by Walmart to run its warehouse. By the end of the year, several of the lawsuits will settle for about $1 million in back pay, said Leah Fried, a WWJ spokeswoman.
Help Them Out
If you are anywhere near one of these actions, show up and show your support for these people who are trying to better their conditions — and yours. If you are not nearby, please visit:
Making Change at Walmart and sign up to join their Day of Action Oct. 10. Also there is a petition, Stand With Walmart Workers Fighting For Their Rights
Go “Like” Warehouse Workers For Justice
Also see, AlterNet: What We Learn from Two Strikes at Walmart Warehouses
David Dayen at FDL, Walmart Workers Strike at Multiple Stores