A Walmart wage protest resulted in dozens of arrests last Thursday as around 500 people, including over 50 employees, sat in the parking lot with picket signs.
After a year of protests against the retail chain’s practice of paying their average employee less than $25,000 a year, over 50 people, including employees, union representatives, and clergy members banded together in Chinatown in a crowd of around 500. They all had the same goal, and that was to make Walmart listen to its people, who are reportedly kept below the poverty line while expected to work just as hard as others earning twice as much at Costco.
The employees are angry and Walmart allegedly refuses to listen. The California retail store simply responded by getting police involved, and arrested the crowd which had assembled in the parking lot.
The Walmart wage protest was simply the people demanding better pay and working conditions.
Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, completely agrees with the motion, “Walmart has proven its willingness to break the law by illegally firing workers and trying to silence them. We are sitting down today to demonstrate that we won’t allow these dirty tactics in Los Angeles.”
The dirty tactics in question involve Walmart allegedly firing employees who speak up against them, effectively silencing those who disagree with their business practices.
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A union created to fight for employees’ rights, OurWalmart, has pointed out these unfair conditions, which include termination and disciplinary action against them. So far the group has reported around 100 total punishments against speaking up, including 20 illegal firings.
Walmart CEO Bill Simon disclosed some numbers against the theory, however, stating that nearly 500,000 Walmart workers earn more than $25,000 a year. He did not specify how many of them were in upper management.
Kory Lundberg, a spokesperson for the retailer, further countered the claims of the Walmart wage protest:
“There are unparalleled opportunities at Walmart. We’re going to be promoting 160,000 associates this year. That’s larger than the total workforce of most companies out there. Folks can come in as entry level or whatever level they’re at and can work up as far as they’re willing to go. That’s one of the things we’re proudest of.”
A clothing room operator from the Pico Rivera store in Los Angeles disagrees, and said it’s terrifying just working for the retailer:
“A lot of the people I know are fearful. It’s like walking on rice paper. They feel at any moment they may be fired. Everyone is just so nervous all the time a lot don’t speak up for themselves.”
Anthony Goytia, a father of two, has stated that he didn’t even earn enough to pay his rent this month and had to visit a food bank just to eat. “The power went out at my house yesterday because I couldn’t afford the bill,” he said.
Anthony Goytia also says he’s been asking for full time hours for over a year now, but instead of granting the hours, they allegedly hire temporary employees.
Who do you agree with? Was the Walmart wage protest justified?