Wal-Mart workers and supporters launched protests in at least 15 cities Thursday, urging the world’s largest retailer provide higher wages, better jobs and the right to unionize.
OUR Wal-Mart, a coalition including Wal-Mart workers, community organizers and the United Food & Commercial Workers organized day-long protests, urging Wal-Mart to pay full-time wages of $25,000 a year, or $12 an hour, reports USA today.
“It says many of Wal-Mart’s 1.3 million associates are part-time employees averaging just $8.80 an hour.
“The Wal-Mart protests – which follow last week’s broader, widespread strikes among fast-food industry workers seeking $15 an hour wages from fast food chains – were scheduled for Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Orlando, Minneapolis and Washington D.C., where Wal-Mart is threatening to cut expansion if it’s required to pay a city mandated “living wage” of at least $12.50 an hour.
“At least three current or former Wal-Mart employees were arrested in New York City Thursday morning for disorderly conduct as they attempted to deliver a petition to the office of Wal-Mart director Chris Williams. The independent board member is CEO of New York-based investment bank Williams Capital Management Trust. About three dozen protesters, some wearing green shirts with OUR Wal-Mart stenciled on them, participated in the rally.
“Protesters also planned to rally outside of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s San Francisco apartment building. Mayer was appointed to Wal-Mart’s board of directors in 2012. Wal-Mart spokesperson Brooke Buchanan said the protests were having little impact on its 4,600 U.S. stores.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of union activists and professional protesters – not a lot of Wal-Mart associates,” Buchanan said. “We’ve got 1.3 million (employees) in the U.S. and this is a very small group which doesn’t represent the vast majority of associates who work for Wal-Mart.” Wal-Mart workers have staged protests before, including a Black Friday walk-out on Nov. 23.