The first retail worker strike against Walmart has spread from Los Angeles, where it began last week, to stores in a dozen cities.
Walmart workers walked off the job in Dallas, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay area, Miami, the Washington, D.C., area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Chicago and Orlando, said Dan Schlademan, director of the United Food and Commercial Workers' Making Change At Walmart campaign. Workers also went on strike in parts of Kentucky, Missouri and Minnesota, he said.
The latest walkouts included 88 workers from 28 stores -- a minuscule fraction of the 1.4 million who work at Walmart, the world's largest private employer. Until Oct 5th, when about 60 Walmart employees walked off the job for a day in LA, no Walmart retail workers had ever gone on strike, the union said.The workers are protesting company attempts to "silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job," according to a United Food and Commercial Workers news release. Walmart workers, who are not unionized, have long complained of low pay and a lack of benefits.
Walmart also disputed the UFCW's claim that the strikes this week were the first ever. "The UFCW has done these same publicity stunts in the past," said Tovar, citing a 2006 walkout at a Walmart store in Hialeah Gardens, Fla.
"I make $8.90 an hour and I've worked at Walmart for three years," said Colby Harris, 22, of Dallas. "Everyone at my store lives from check to check and borrows money from each other just to make it through the week." The six heirs to Walmart founder Sam Walton, meanwhile, are worth $89.5 billion, or as much as the bottom 41.5 percent of Americans combined.