In June, I joined over 100 Walmart workers on the longest protracted strike in Walmart’s history. We traveled from across the country to Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting in Bentonville, to call on the company to publically commit to better wages and jobs for workers and to end illegal retaliation against those of us who are speaking out. While our action in June was a success, Walmart illegally disciplined and, in my case, fired nearly 80 of us when we arrived back home.
Ironically, when Walmart fired me they never even told me in person. I found out I was let go, when I was shopping as a customer and my employee discount card didn’t work. Eventually, I received a text from my manager that I was fired. Walmart couldn’t even pick up the phone and call me to let me know I was terminated. While I was shocked, I was not surprised because that is the type of company Walmart has become and its impacting workers and our community.
I have no doubt Walmart fired me for no other reason than I was exercising my basic rights of free speech and assembly. No company, not even the world’s largest private employer, has the right to violate our basic rights as Americans and workers. Moreover, Walmart, a company that made over $16 billion last year in profit, has a responsibility to treat its workers with respect and to pay us a wage that allows us to feed and shelter our children without having to use taxpayer dollars.
There is no reason why anyone who works a full-time job at one of the wealthiest companies in the world should ever have to go to sleep hungry. Yet, that is what is happening to thousands of Walmart workers. Not because we don’t work hard but because Walmart as a company puts profit over people with its poverty wages.
As workers and as a community we are taking a stand. We are saying ‘enough is enough.’ We will not be silenced and we are not going away. Today, I along with hundreds of Walmart workers will be joined by thousands of community activists, religious and civic leaders, low-wage retail workers and others in a protest against Walmart’s poverty wages and illegal retaliation against workers.
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we are taking our message directly to Walmart Board of Director Member and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. As a member of the Walmart board Mayer has a responsibility to ensure the company treats its employees with dignity and respect. Additionally, Mrs. Mayer has the ability to help shape Walmart into a different company, a better company.
If you are ready to make a difference and if you are willing to take a stand against Walmart’s poverty wages then I ask you to join me and hundreds of other Bay Area residents in downtown San Francisco on Powell and Market today at 5:30pm.
We are going to send a message to Marissa Mayer and Walmart that the time for change is now.