Last week, Walmart workers in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio went out on strike to protest Walmart’s illegal retaliation against workers who spoke out for decent wages, sufficient hours, and respect at work.
One year ago, news broke that an Ohio Walmart was holding a canned food drive – for its own workers. Walmart employees were asked to bring in canned food so that their coworkers would have enough to eat over the holidays while the Walton family (which owns Walmart) has as much wealth as 43% of Americans combined. The news was so shocking that Stephen Colbert covered it on the Colbert Report and Ashton Kutcher even got into an argument with Walmart on Twitter.
Ohio Walmart workers this year held their own food drive and went on strike to protest the fact that many of their coworkers had been fired or disciplined simply for speaking out for the wages and hours it takes to feed a family. They called on Walmart to end its illegal retaliation against workers who dare to risk the little security they have for a shot at providing a better life for their children.
Many Walmart workers end up going hungry or are unable to provide enough food for their families year-round without a living wage or enough hours, but hunger is an even bigger issue at this time of year, when many celebrate an abundance.
“Our families are going without because we’re not getting the hours we need,” said Zacola Simpson, a single mother who works for Walmart in Laurel, Maryland.
Aubretia Edick, a 64-year-old Walmart pharmacy worker from Hudson, New York, also notes the challenges of staying fed on Walmart’s low wages.
I’ll take a sandwich to work and that’s about it for the day. I drive a lot of tea to feel full. Once in a blue moon I’ll let myself go into Save-A-Lot and I’ll get some meat. Eggs are a luxury kind of thing.”
Aubretia is technically full-time, but her manager often slashes her hours. At one time, she was grossing roughly $297 a week – $195 after taxes and deductions. That doesn’t leave enough money to cover food after all the bills and expenses she must pay.
Walmart has responded by retaliating against its workers instead of addressing these concerns. Workers are on strike to protest that retaliation and are planning larger actions as we near Black Friday. Learn more at BlackFridayProtests.org.