Ten current and former Walmart employees were arrested yesterday after protesting the company’s unfair wages and treatment of workers. According to ThinkProgress, the employees were blocking the door to Walmart’s Washington, D.C. office during a rally on Thursday afternoon.
The employees were protesting the company to offer full-time jobs and to raise employee wages overall.
Walmart has an annual revenue of nearly $450 billion and a global workforce of more than 2 million, and is notorious for its extensive claims of low worker wages and poor treatment of employees. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) has been working to get Walmart to change their anti-employee policies. Since 2005, the company has agreed to pay about $1 billion in damages related to unpaid work.
“A greeter for Walmart in his 60s or 70s had blood clots in his legs. When he asked the manager for a stool to sit on, he refused,” Pat O’Neill, executive vice president of the UFCW said in a talk this April. The manager’s refusal prompted a former Walmart employee to protest in front of the store for three days, in solidarity. “Finally, the manager relented, and the man, with tears in his eyes, asked the manager, ‘Am I going to get fired for this?’” O’Neill said.
According to the Cornell Chronicle, scheduling is one common concern among Walmart employees. Workers have designated tasks that they are supposed to finish during a typical workday; however, Walmart has a strict policy against overtime. Meaning if an atypical circumstance were to arise, or if a task took longer than expected, the worker would not be able to complete their tasks, and shelves could be left unstocked.
Last year, ThinkProgress reported that Walmart combats employee attempts to unionize by telling workers that they could lose benefits and vacation time. A Walmart spokesman told Bloomberg, “Walmart has been opposed to unions since Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962.”
If Walmart employees ask about joining a union, “We would say: ‘Let us remind you of all that Walmart offers, and of what might go away. Quarterly bonuses might go away, vacation time might go away,” the spokesman, David Tovar, said.
In June, Walmart fired workers who participated in strikes again the company. The Nation reports that 20 workers who participated in the June strike by the labor group OUR Walmart were terminated and 50 or so more were disciplined. Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg told The Nation that the employees were fired because they violated the company’s attendance policy.