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Vol. 76/No. 40      November 5, 2012

On the Picket Line

Walmart workers, supporters
picket store north of Miami

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.—About 40 Walmart workers and supporters picketed in front of the Walmart store here, just north of Miami, Oct. 11 as part of protests and walkouts at 28 stores in 12 states Oct. 9-11. In southern Florida, 12 workers from several stores joined the walkouts.

The actions were organized by OUR Walmart (Organization United for Respect at Walmart), an association of current and former employees backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. Walmart employs about 1.4 million people in 4,500 U.S. stores.

“They say they only have part-time work, unless you’re a friend of the manager,” Brittany Bond, who has worked at the store here for three years, told the rally.

“When I was pregnant, I still had to work three departments by myself,” said Rose Joseph, a Walmart worker in Fort Lauderdale. “They don’t want to give people full-time hours so they don’t have to pay benefits and sick days.”

“Many wouldn’t do it themselves,” Bond told the Militant Oct. 21, when asked about her coworkers’ reactions to the walkout. “But they were glad someone did.” She said managers didn’t try to retaliate for her participation.

In July, OUR Walmart activists spoke at a zoning board hearing considering a request by Walmart to build a store in midtown Miami. They pointed to the low wages and bad work conditions as an argument against granting the permits. Some merchants complained that Walmart will drive them out of business.

—Naomi Craine

Walmart workers press demands
in Southern California

PICO RIVERA, Calif.—About 200 demonstrators at the Walmart store here Oct. 4 supported demands for higher wages and better working conditions at the retail giant. While most of the demonstrators were not Walmart workers, it included workers from seven area stores, as well as members and full-time staff of local unions.

Thirty-nine workers walked out for much of the day at the store here. They were joined by between three and seven workers from each store in La Quinta, Rosemead, Duarte, Paramount, Baldwin Park and Crenshaw.

The protest and walkouts were organized by OUR Walmart. Three Walmart workers interviewed by the Militant Oct. 15 spoke about the actions and work conditions at the stores.

“To lift anything heavy a team lift is required but you can’t ask for another person to help you,” said Dan Hindman, 28, who has worked at the Paramount store for more than two years. He noted that even full-time workers work as little as 34 hours in a week.

“A lot of associates don’t know their rights,” said Venanzi Luna, 33. Luna, who has worked for six years at the Walmart store here, was given verbal and written warnings and a short suspension by bosses after joining the OUR Walmart campaign.

“Half of the first shift didn’t work,” said Evelin Cruz, 41, a worker at the Pico Rivera store for more than eight years. “People are tired of store managers pushing them around. Walmart’s biggest fear is people coming together.”

Cruz, Hindman and Luna joined with about 200 people from around the country at a protest at the company’s Bentonville, Ark., corporate headquarters Oct. 10. OUR Walmart is planning other protests on “Black Friday,” a major shopping day after Thanksgiving

—Ellie García

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London: 100,000 join march to protest joblessness, gov’t austerity  
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