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WalMart Employees Converge at Headquarters to Demand Respect

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WalMart Employees Converge at Headquarters to Demand Respect

Walmart associates from across the country are speaking out against the mega retailer’s workplace conditions.

Taking advantage of Walmart’s “open door policy,” roughly 100 workers descended on the company’s Bentonville, Ark. headquarters and asked executives to hear concerns over working conditions at the world’s most successful big box retailer.

The group, Organization United for Respect at Walmart is asking the company to revamp policies to address growing concerns among associates, including fair wages, hours and a lack of respectful treatment from managers.

WalMart Management “Out of Touch” With Reality

Walmart’s senior vice president for global labor relations met with the group and promised no retaliation against the employees that showed up in Bentonville to advocate changes in the way the company treats workers.

“This meeting was a good first step,” said group member Gloria Taylor, who traveled from Miami, Fla. to attend the event. “The real question now is if Walmart will take its associates concerns seriously and partner with us to improve conditions, and in turn make the company better. It is clear to us that management in Bentonville is out of touch with the reality of what’s really going on in their stores.”

OUR Walmart’s ranks are growing rapidly after years of low pay, lack of benefits and lack of hours among employees. Those who speak out against the company are typically punished with fewer working hours, or are passed over for promotions, the group says.

WalMart Efforts to Stop Unionizing

The company has also pushed to keep employees from unionizing. To counter the trend, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union helped bankroll OUR Walmart and were present at the event.

Domestic Workers United, Jobs With Justice and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference also joined workers to call for better pay and conditions.

“Yesterday we demonstrated to associates that OUR Walmart is an important vehicle to build a better future,” Taylor said. “We just took a first major step in building a lasting partnership with our company to make Walmart the best it can be.”

Members presented executives with a “Declaration of Respect,” which details the ambitions of the movement.

Like recent revolutionary social movements overseas, OUR Walmart grew quietly through online organizing via social media.

For months, members and union backers used email, Facebook and phones to bring in supporters. As momentum grew, supporters started gathering at community centers, churches and local restaurants.

Walmart: No Stranger to Workers’ Rights Issues

Walmart is no stranger to controversy concerning its treatment of workers. Just last week, the Supreme Court denied class action status to 1.6 million women who accuse the company of mistreating its female workers.

The decision was a blow to civil and women’s rights activists who have long pushed for Walmart to address concerns over equal pay and treatment for female associates.

It was a narrow defeat, with the case being dropped on a 5-4 vote. It was merely a technical victory, with Justices ruling that the number of women and myriad of complaints didn’t warrant a single class.

The decision did not in any way address actual allegations, so the legal fight isn’t over by a long shot.

The numbers don’t look good for Walmart either.

According to a Financial Times report, women make up 70 percent of Walmart’s hourly workers, but only 33 percent of total management. Women are also paid less than men in every region, and the pay gap only gets wider as time goes by.

It looks like a perfect storm for unions, who have been stone-walled by the mega retailer for decades.

Keeping that door closed to unions has fostered a hugely profitable culture of low worker pay, bare bones or no benefits and a good ol’ boy culture where men rise in the ranks much faster than the female workers.

Originally published on

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