Walmart Laid Off those Who Fought for $15 Minimum Wage, Lied About Reason
So much for a better Wal-Mart. They abruptly closed 5 stores across the country last week claiming it had to do with emergency plumbing issues. One of them just happened to be the first store to ever go on strike and one of the leading stores in the fight for $15.
Walmart said that the closings were temporary and were prompted by plumbing issues at the five stores, in California Texas, Oklahoma and Florida. Officials at the retailer said they would do their best to rehire the workers at other stores or at the five stores once they reopened.
But a claim set to be filed on Monday by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union with the National Labord Relations Board says that the closings were in retaliation for a history of labor activism on behalf of Our Walmart, a group that has helped the stores’ workers air their claims, but is not a union itself.
The Pico Rivera store was the site of the first strike at a Walmart store in the United States, in 2012, organized by a workers’ group baked by the union. The strike was over pay and working conditions for the retailer’s hourly wage workers. Since then, store employees have led actions demanding changes to Walmart’s hours and pregnancy policies, access to full-time, consistent work and at least $15 an hour in pay for workers at the retailer’s 4,500 stores across the country.
“Walmart has targeted this store because the associates have been among the most active associates around the country to improve working conditions,” the claim says.
And if you’re wondering why they’d suspect such… the story gets more eye-opening…
The five shuttered supercenters have had more plumbing problems than most of Walmart’s other stores, with over 100 incidents reported at each store in the past two years, according to the company. The retailer may decide to do additional work to remodel the stores, which Walmart called strong performers, ahead of the year-end holiday season. The chain said it had not yet obtained permits for the work because the extent of what might be needed was unclear.
The 2,200 workers at the five stores had been laid off, officials said, because it was difficult to know how long the work would take to complete, and also to give those workers access to 60 days of severence pay. The officials said that the workers would be invited to reapply to those stores once they reopened, and that the retailer would do its best to hire the workers in positions similar to those they held before, at the same or better pay.
Workers laid off in the closings have claimed that they have been given no guarantees of getting their jobs back at the reopened stores. They received just several hours’ notice from their managers of the store closings, said Venanzi Luna, a deli manager at the Pico Rivera store who had taken the lead in calling for improvements for workers.
“At first, we didn’t know what was going on. Some of us were crying,” Ms. Luna said. “How are we going to pay our bills? How are we going to pay our rent?”
Walmart has been accused before of retaliating against workers over their participation in labor movements. In 2014, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that Walmart violated local labor laws when it closed a store in Quebec that had become one of the first Walmart stores in the country to unionize. Walmart denied that it closed the store for that reason.
Walmart workers know this is about retaliation, not plumbing. I think we all know. They’d recently put on a show about raising minimum wage to $10 in states with $7.25 minimum wage laws, but that was clearly just an act.
A petition has been released demanding Walmart to take care of the people they’ve dishonestly laid off, and to guarantee their jobs are returned to them when the stores reopen: http://bit.ly/StandWithPico
I, however, retain the notions that the only good Walmart is one that’s having problems other than plumbing… the only good Walmart is one that looks like this:
– posted at Tumblr