Ticketed strikers refused to leave in order to send a message
Ten current and former Walmart workers and two organizers were ticketed by police outside the retailer’s Washington, D.C., office during a protest over working conditions.
OUR Walmart, an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, is spear-heading the strikes and said most of the workers had taken part in recent high-profile strikes and as a result later lost their jobs.
A D.C. police spokeswoman said the protesters were cited for “blocking passage” after refusing to disperse from the sidewalk during the demonstration.
Cindy Murray, an employee at the retailer’s store, reported she and her fellow strikers had refused to leave in order to send a message. Murray said they were protesting what OUR Walmart claims were 20 firings as well as dozens of disciplinary actions that occurred as a result of the worker strikes that started on Black Friday 0f 2012.
“We stood our ground. We felt Walmart needs to know how we truly feel about what we’re doing,” said Murray. “Our demands were that they take back what they did to our 60 workers, and we’re giving them until Labor Day to do that.”
They were fired as a result of violating Walmart’s attendance policy
Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, disputed the claims that the workers in question had been retaliated against, and said they were fired as a result of violating the company’s attendance policy and not because they had gone on strike or took part in protests.
“No associate has ever been retaliated against at Walmart for raising concerns, nor would they be,” Lundberg said. “Many of these associates didn’t show up for days.”
Walmart workers participated in scattered strikes during last year’s Thanksgiving shopping season, calling for higher pay, better access to health care coverage, and more reliable work hours.
OUR Walmart has filed unfair labor practice charges against Walmart on behalf of workers who lost their jobs. The current and former employees who were later detained visited the D.C. headquarters of the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces labor law and investigates such charges.
According to Murray, the workers presented an NLRB official with a petition in support of their cause that included 180,000 signatures.
Murray said OUR Walmart plans to escalate its public protests if the disciplinary actions against strikers aren’t reversed.
“We want every worker that they fired due to our strike to be reinstated,” she said.
Murray, a 13-year Walmart veteran, said she earns $12.40 per hour. The $100 ticket she received Thursday for “blocking passage” is almost exactly equal to a day’s wages.