Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., recently opened a Neighborhood Market in Boulder. This occurred after decades of the city council blocking Walmart's entry into the city. Unfortunately, because Walmart was not seeking a building permit this time, the city wasn't able to stop them.
Next time you feel tempted to save a few dollars by shopping at Walmart, please consider this.
Walmart's low prices are built on human suffering — the suffering of workers here and abroad. Low wages (average pay is $17,000 for a full time U.S. employee), minimal benefits and part-time employment are standard fare at Walmart. Workers are paid so poorly that one Ohio Walmart has a drive among its employees this year to raise funds so that its workers in need can have Thanksgiving dinner. A spokesman for the chain said that "This is part of the company's culture, to rally around associates and take care of them." Why not pay them fair wages instead?
Workers who try to improve their condition by organizing with other workers, a right protected by federal law, are often fired or have their hours cut. Walmart also has a long record of discrimination.
This past Monday, the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel issued a decision to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of workers' rights, including illegal firings, disciplinary actions and threats by managers and the company's national spokesperson against strikes. "The Board's decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs," said Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs With Justice and American Rights at Work.
According to a press release by Lynsey Kryzwick and Derrick Plummer: "Workers could be awarded back pay, reinstatement and the reversal of disciplinary actions through the decision; and Walmart could be required to inform and educate all employees of their legally protected rights."
Walmart workers need the solidarity of the community. On Black Friday (Nov. 29), there will be actions all over the country in support of Walmart workers. Join them on the biggest shopping day of the year as they call for an end to retaliation against those who bravely speak out and a real wage of $25,000 a year. You can find out about local actions at https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/black-friday-near-you. An action is planned at the Boulder Walmart, as well as several other Walmarts in the area. Also, please Tweet Walmart (@Walmart) in support of Walmart workers.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column appears every Friday in the Colorado Daily.